The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 31, 2013

180 register for Lewisburg's chilly river plunge on Saturday afternoon


The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — It’s time again to plunge like a polar bear. The 10th annual Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival is back this weekend, and the mass leap of humanity into the frosty Susquehanna River has become its showcase event.

About 180 people had signed up for the eighth annual plunge as of Wednesday, agreeing to leave behind $20 and their senses for a mid-winter swim starting at about 2 p.m. Saturday. Water temperature as of deadline Wednesday was 34 degrees.

Water level and current are greater concerns than temperature, said Linda Sterling, director of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, and the Union County Emergency Management Agency will keep a close eye on water and weather conditions, as well as people.

And the plunge only grows in popularity. Last year, about 250 people went into the Susquehanna. One year, ice had to be chipped away so the event could go on, Sterling said.

The proceeds from the plunge now buy the ice for the sculptures in Hufnagle Park and along Market Street — all 12 blocks, weighing about 350 pounds each, not including the giants in the park.

“It’s at the point where we don’t have to sweat (the ice cost) anymore,” she said.

Last-minute plungers still can sign up at the St. George Street landing beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Those preferring drier events can find plenty to do. The forecast, for once, is frosty, and the ice sculptures should be around all day Friday and Saturday for photo opportunities. Shoppers can take 15 percent off purchases at participating stores, all staying open later Friday, with a downloadable coupon available on the partnership’s website.

“I love all of the events, really I do,” Sterling said, but she confessed a soft spot for “A Cappella on Ice,” starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Campus Theater. “It really connects the students with the community in a very unique way,” she said.

Bucknell University a cappella groups Beyond Unison, the Bison Chips, the Silhouettes and Two Past Midnight will perform a concert to benefit Bucknell P.A.C.E.S. Suggested donation is $5.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, landlubbers can run or walk in the the Frosty 5K. Registration is $25 at the Campus Theater beginning at 8:30 a.m. The first 200 to sign up get presents.

Food abounds Saturday with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m., hosted by the Lewisburg Lions Club; the sixth annual Frosty Kettle Chili Cook Off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Puirseil’s Irish Pub; Cocoa Fest for kids, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. in the Donald Heiter Community Center; and the Chocolate Lovers Festival beginning at 7 p.m. in the Lewisburg Hotel.

For a schedule, visit www.lewisburgpa.com and click on “events.”