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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Postponed Kingsville Polar Bear Dip still a cool time

by Kyle Reid

The chilly, early-spring temperatures on Saturday didn’t keep a large turnout of people from wading into the frigid Lake Erie waters in support of the 19th annual Kingsville Polar Bear Dip.

The brave groups of swimmers took to the shores of Lake Erie at Cedar Island Beach to raise money for Childcan and Access County Community Support Services (ACCESS).

While the dip is traditionally held in chillier month of January, the event was postponed this year, due to the extreme cold that gripped Windsor-Essex in early 2019.

But, while the temperature along the shoreline on Saturday was slightly warmer than the typical winter temperatures the many participating dippers were used to, the water of Lake Erie was still icy, just above the freezing mark.

Still, over 125 swimmers bravely dipped into ice-cold water, helping to raise nearly $40,000 for the two community-support organizations. Steve Hickson, who is the Childcan Community Engagement Co-ordinator, said it’s humbling to see the community support this year.

“It’s great,” Hickson said. “It just shows that people really do care about their community and they just want to do something crazy and fun to get out and show their support.”

The money will go a long way to help those in need, according to Hickson. Childcan directly helps families of youth battling cancer, and ACCESS offers a variety of supports for people, including programming for housing and nutritional support.

“[The Polar Bear Dip] really helps us support local families in Windsor-Essex,” Hickson noted.

After taking the chilly dip, swimmers headed to Lakeside Park Pavilion for lunch and an awards ceremony. A variety of prizes were offered, based on how much money each group raised.

This year, the top fundraising group was the Leamington Women’s Hockey League Dippy Chicks, who raised $6,530, and the top fundraising individual was Tom Roelens, who raised $1,834.

“They all did a fantastic job,” Hickson said. “[We] really appreciate the support that everyone has given to the event.”


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