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Badin Hall hosts ninth annual Polar Bear Plunge

| Monday, February 5, 2018

Temperatures in the high 20s do not make for pleasant swimming weather. Nevertheless, community members gathered Saturday to take a dip in St. Joseph’s Lake as part of Badin Hall’s ninth-annual Polar Bear Plunge. The event aims to benefit St. Margaret’s House in South Bend, which helps women and children living in poverty.

Saturday’s event culminated a year of planning, event director and junior Alyssa Cook said.

“This is something you have to think about almost a year in advance,” Cook said. “We started talking with our rector last year … and basically what we said is we want to revamp it.”

Tom Naatz | The Observer
Students participate in Badin Hall’s annual Polar Plunge signature event.

Cook said she estimated about 250 people usually participate in this Badin event, which is “not a big percentage of the school.” Cook said she hoped 300 people would participate this year.

“We basically spent the whole year thinking about, ‘What are the ways we can make it a little more revamped?’” Cook said.

The heavy-duty planning for the event began in November, as the directors began contacting the Student Activities Organization (SAO), booking the venue for the event and planning finances. Planning was complicated by several factors, namely that due to study abroad, the three event planners were never present on campus together.

Weather is another potentially complicating factor, event director and sophomore Alicia Cristoforo said.

“I hope we get a really good turnout this year,” Cristoforo said. “It might be hard because of the weather. It was pretty balmy last year, it was like a 50-degree day.”

This year, for the first time, Badin Hall inaugurated Frog Week in the week leading up to the event, including an ice cream social with St. Edwards Hall — Badin’s brother dorm, a movie night and “Ms. Bullfrog,” a mock beauty pageant.

“It’s been really fun to have more community building events this year. We’ve done more than ever before. Because we’re living in Pangborn, the hall government really took the initiative of preserving and absorbing the first years in the community, which would be a little more challenging than usual,” Cristoforo said. “A lot of who we are as a dorm is the building we live in, but it’s so much more than that.”

Cristoforo said they hope to be able to make a significant donation to St. Margaret’s House. In the past, making a significant donation has been a challenge because many of the supplies for the event, notably heat lamps, are expensive. St. Margaret’s is especially in need of money as donations generally drop off after the holidays, Cook said.

There was a steady stream of participants at the event itself, despite the brisk temperatures, and towels, heat lamps and hot chocolate were available to participants immediately after they left the water. Two firemen were stationed in the water to ensure no participants had medical problems. Yet despite the cold, participants expressed positive feelings about their experience.

“It’s a great way for the community to come together. Everyone comes out from a ton of different dorms,” senior Zosia Zdanowicz said. “It was really cold, but the hot chocolate was worth it afterwards.”

For some, their participation in the Polar Bear Plunge was an impulsive decision.

“On the morning of, I woke up and said, ‘Kevin, how do I get you to do this with me?’” senior Robby Lucian said.

Participants also noted the important cause the Polar Bear Plunge serves.

“It’s a great way to show your Badin Hall spirit and support Saint Margaret’s House,” senior Maggie James said.

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About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

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