Veteran’s Plunge to be held Tuesday
By Phil Malone
Scioto Voice Contributor
For the past twenty years, the “biggest unofficial event” in the Portsmouth area, the “Polar Plunge” will once again pit daring challengers with The Mighty Ohio River. This time, the river could be a serious contender.
The event is known as the James Saddler Memorial, for longtime supporter and well known veteran of the same name.
“We all know there will be a few that will do whatever they have to do, to go in” said Sam Simon, one of the originators of the event. “We want to raise funds for the local veterans in nursing homes and rest homes, to see that they attend at least two fun gatherings during the year.”
Simon also says that it is a fun time to get people together and celebrate the New Year, promote a cause, bring awareness to such efforts as organ donation, and Cystic Fibrosis. Paul David “P.D.” Williams died this past year, dealing, and out living beyond expectations, Cystic Fibrosis.
Going into the weekend, the Ohio is murky, muddy and so high, that city officials were prompted to block the entrance, with signs, at the Court Street entrance to the river. One option would be not to allow any vehicles outside the floodwall, with participants and spectators walking in. There still will be very little room. Organizers have a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Anyone who has jumped in the river before, know to wear shoes, and have a team ready with towels and other methods to get and keep them warm. Over the last nineteen years, there has never been a reported injury, other than being very cold. The smallest group was a mere handful in the inaugural event, then topping over 80 from time to time.
This year’s 20th jump will mark the end of the originators involvement, as time has caught up with most of them. “We are handing over the promotion and operation of this to the American Legion Post 23, and the Sons of the American Legion (SAL.) says Simon. “This will be more of a veterans – military them and we certainly hope the tradition will live on.”
This year, commemorative tee shirts with the new logo, designed by Michael Vermillion of iDesigns, and hoodies, will be made available from the Portsmouth Polar Plunge Facebook page. The design is copyrighted, which proceeds will also benefit the local veterans. Concrete Polar Bear paws will also be made available, in white and cammo designs.