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I jumped into a frozen lake

Gege, center left, and Amy emerge from Lake Bemidji Saturday morning after taking the Brrrmidji Plunge. Submitted Photo1 / 2
Amy, left, and Gege prepare to jump in Lake Bemidji Saturday morning during the Brrrmidji Plunge. Submitted Photo2 / 2

I jumped into a frozen lake

I never imagined I would jump into a frozen lake, with my boyfriend’s mom, Gege, in frigid northern Minnesota temperatures. This morning I did just that.

I started working at the Pioneer in the beginning of December. No, this wasn’t some type of “haze the new girl” assignment or anything.

Everyone was talking about it in the newsroom one day, saying how interesting it would be to have a staff member write about the experience of doing the famous Brrrmidji Plunge, so I volunteered. I don’t know that it is something I would ever want to participate in again, but I’m proud to say I did.

The whole experience was pretty surreal. We signed up at 9:30 a.m. in a crowded trailer where we received our free Brrrmidji Polar Plunge tote bags and an index card to write down what we wanted the announcer to say when we jumped. Too tired and nervous to think of anything creative to call ourselves at that point we just wrote down our names.

Then we had an hour and a half to kill until the actual plunge, so we sat nervously and drank coffee at Dunn Bros. until it was time to head back to the lake. When we arrived, a massive crowd had formed around the giant hole in the ice. Their faces were grimaced in anticipation of witnessing a berserk bunch of people about to be submerged in a freezing pit.

And it was freezing. The bank said it was 21 degrees outside, but the wind chill made it feel more like -21.

We joined the crowd and discovered that all the jumpers were gathering in a warming house in preparation of their inevitable frigidness.

Gege and I joined the group and disrobed to our swimsuits. It felt awkward and silly to be packed like sardines, and bumping into all sorts of people wearing strange costumes or who were also half naked.

Within 10 minutes a large group left the warming house and were standing in front of the hole. Everyone was peeking out of the foggy windows watching as the brave jumpers panicked in and out of the water. After them, a man stood at the edge of the hole and started stripping off layers of underwear. He must have been wearing four pairs and with every strip, the crowd would laugh or gasp at his risky maneuver.

After a few more groups had jumped, Gege and I opened the door and walked out onto the platform. Friends were waving and laughing, and at that point I just wanted to get in the water thinking it must be warmer than the air. After the announcer viciously stalled for a minute, saying something about the after-jump warming houses being full, we held hands and jumped in the lake.

My body tensed immediately, and I’m sure I was saying all sorts of nonsensical words and exasperations to the divers who assisted us in our frenzied state. We made our way over to the icy staircase, and I let Gege get out first.

Once we were out, the cold air hit me like a million little pin pricks. I felt panicked and I started running toward the warming house. I turned around to see that Gege was running in the other direction so I told her to follow me. Once we finally made it to the warming house I sort of just jumped around for a minute trying to shake off the cold water. We warmed up with the help of Luke handing us towels and our coats as he exclaimed, “You did it!”

It felt incredible to get into the heated car after that. Then, we booked it to a hotel so we could get into a hot tub. For a fair price of $5 a person, we enjoyed a good hour in the facilities at the AmericInn and enjoyed getting the feeling back in our toes and fingertips.

Overall it was an invigorating experience. The adrenaline afterwards was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

It was an excellent bonding experience as well. It felt like Gege and I endured something terrible together and came out of it feeling stronger and rejuvenated.