After a week of bitterly cold weather, the Southern end of Lake George has frozen over. Cruise ships that planned to travel down the lake with New Year’s revelers held their parties dockside instead. According to the Lake George Steamboat Company, this is a first in the 15 years they have been offering New Year’s cruises. The cold also presented challenges for the Lake George New Year’s Day Polar Plunge.
The air temperature in Lake George dipped to 14 below zero last night. By plunge time, it warmed up to zero. “Some polar plunges were canceled today, “said Linda Duffy, “but not Lake George.” Duffy, who organizes the annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge, says members of the Lake George Fire Department broke up the ice off the Shepard Park Beach yesterday evening and returned this morning to create open water for swimming.
Slightly more than 400 registered for the 2018 plunge. They came in bathing suits and colorful costumes to splash among the floating chunks of ice. They entered the lake in three waves spaced 15 minutes apart. Organizers erected a large warming tent on the beach where plungers could dry off, warm up and put on some weather-appropriate clothes after frolicking in the water. In past, milder years, as many as 1,200 have participated in the Lake George New Year’s Day Polar Plunge.
The Lake George Volunteer Fire Department, the Lake George EMS, Bay Ridge Fire Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department worked the safety and security detail. Members of the Oriental Shriner’s helped with crowd control.
The event, which has been a tradition in Lake George for decades, raises funds for non-profit organizations through registration fees and t-shirt sales. Beneficiaries of the 2018 New Year’s Day Polar Plunge are the Springfield Shriner’s Hospital for Children’s and the fire companies that assist with the event.