'We're not in Kansas anymore' COSTUME WINNERS 1 2 3 4
Donnie Ransome as the Tin Man, Kim Ransome as the Wicked Witch, Chuck Schaaf as the Cowardly Lion
First annual Polar Bear Plunge for Wounded EOC Warriors gets warm reception
Date published: 2/24/2008
BY BEN SELLERS
At 41 degrees, the water in the Rappahannock River was no colder than the air outside during Saturday's Polar Bear Plunge at City Dock.
But it was cold enough to make some dippers think twice.
"It's about right there--halfway back to the shore--when you realize the complete insanity of the act in which you're partaking," said plunge particiant Cory Kelly, a public affairs officer with the Navy's Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technical Division.
About 60 people--some dressed in outlandish costumes--took a dip to benefit the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation. About 200 more came just to watch, said JoAnne Jones, superintendent of leisure services with the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Department.
The goal was to raise $5,000 through registration and pledges. The grand total for the day was around $8,000, said foundation President Sherri Beck.
EOD technicians are trained in handling and disposing of explosive devices. For some of those present, the chilly dive was nothing new.
"Most of us were stationed at one point in the military and very familiar with cold water," said retired EOD technician Chuck Schaaf, who arrived with several co-workers from counter-terrorism consulting firm A-T Solutions dressed as characters from "The Wizard of Oz."
Though wearing red long-johns and face paint as the Cowardly Lion, Schaaf had courage enough to enter the water. And a fear of melting didn't stop "Wicked Witch" Kim Ransome--nor did the temperature.
"Ten minutes of being miserable is nothing compared to what these [Wounded EOD Warriors] go through," said Ransome.
Not all participants were directly connected to the Navy. After reading about it in the paper, bartender Brandon Leake and several restaurant friends decided to take the plunge. Leake's minimal approach in costume selection made quite a splash.
"I figure with something like this, less is more," he said. "Go with as little as the law would possibly allow--and my girlfriend's bikini bottoms are just the thing."
Ben Sellers: 540/374-5423