Popular frigid events to kick off the new year across the region are either being postponed or canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What was supposed to be the inaugural Mon River Polar Plunge Saturday was postponed to Feb. 13.

Spokeswoman Rachel Wilson said organizers wanted to delay the plunge a bit to better prepare because it’s the first time for the event.

The jump is scheduled to take place along Second Street at the wharf boat ramp in Belle Vernon and is a fundraiser for the Mon Valley Rowing Club, which is sponsoring the plunge.

Wilson, a member of the club, said registration will begin at 12 p.m., and the jump will begin at 1 p.m. Participants will be expected to follow social distancing and other health safety guidelines.

A $20 registration fee will include an event t-shirt.

A food truck will also be available on the site.

For more information, visit the club’s Facebook page or visit their website at monvalleyrowingclub.org

The Frosty Frolic in Coal Center is also scheduled to proceed this year at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Coal Center Wharf. The annual event, which comes with a $10 cost, supports California Area School District Foundation.

Across the state, Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Polar Bear Plunge has moved their eight different plunges, including one in Pittsburgh, to February because of the pandemic. They’ve also presented different options for those who want to participate.

Hailey Fuzak, marketing manager for Special Olympics PA, said, depending on the location of the plunge, participants can make an appointment to jump in a river with restrictions in place or they can take part in a drive-through “plunge” where they exit their car to run through a fire-hose sprinkler before returning to their vehicle. Participants can also choose to go totally virtual, as they’re calling it, “Burrrr-tual.”

Those who go virtual will register and receive a Polar Pop Kit that contains a t-shirt, sign and water balloon.

The idea is go outside, fill the balloon with cold water, hold it over a participant’s head and pop it – posting the reaction on social media.

Fuzak said, during a normal year, those who want to donate to Special Olympics, but don’t want to take the plunge, can take the “Too Chicken to Plunge” option where they still receive a commemorative shirt. For the upcoming plunge, the same idea applies, but it’s now called “The Hibernating Bear.”

“It’s a way to keep people engaged while stuck indoors during the winter season,” Fuzak said.

Proceeds raised from the fundraiser go to help provide year-round sports training and competition for thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities.

For more information about locations, to register and to keep up to date in case restrictions on the plunges change, visit plungepa.org

A popular Fayette County event to kick off the new year with an icy plunge into the river has been canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

It was a difficult decision to cancel the annual Connellsville Polar Bear Club jump in the Youghiogheny River Jan. 1, but the committee couldn’t see any way around it.

“We were up in the air about it,” said Nancy Jacobyansky, one of the organizers of the event.

However, after a meeting at the beginning of December, the committee decided there was no logistical way to hold an event which normally draws more than 400 people to the banks of the river, especially with COVID-19 restrictions to outdoor events.

“There was no way we could make sure everyone was wearing a mask and social distancing,” she said, adding the committee made the decision when the state was allowing 250 people at outdoor gatherings. That number has since been reduced to 50. “We didn’t want to be considered a super-spreader event, and we would have felt terrible if someone contracted the virus because of our event.”

Jacobyansky said people have been understanding about the decision.

“It’s just a different time right now,” Jacobyansky said. “We felt it was the most responsible thing to do.”

For the past 12 years, the plunge has also been a fundraising event for the Connellsville Area Community Ministries’ food pantry, where each participant is asked to bring a nonperishable food item to donate.

Jacobyansky said the pantry is normally low on supplies following the holidays and is asking for people to donate a nonperishable food item or a monetary donation to the ministries at CACM, P.O. Box 777, Connellsville, Pa., 15425.

For more information on donating, call the ministries at 724-626-1120 or visit www.connmin.org

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