by Jim Boyle
Degrees were measured this past Saturday not in Celsius or Fahrenheit, but rather in levels of craziness for the first Shiver Plunge on Lake Orono.
Some jumpers dressed in costumes. Some dressed in very little. A few donned eye goggles and snorkels. But it was
Logan Hemmesch, a 2008 Elk River High School graduate, who set the craziness bar for future polar plunges.
Dressed in an Iron Man outfit and cape, Hemmesch jumped not once but five times into the chilly waters of Lake
Orono to raise money for an organization that he’s passionate about — the Humane Society.
There were 45 jumpers altogether that raised more than $10,000 for 10 non-profit organizations.
“My heart definitely seemed to stop beating for a few seconds on the first jump,” Hemmesch said. “I figured as long as I kept moving my body temperature wouldn’t drop too low.”
The water, however, felt colder with each successive jump, Hemmesch said.
But awaiting Hemmesch and the other participants was the warm, bubbly water of a hot tub.
“That was good,” Hemmesch said of the hot tub. “It burned for a second, but it was instant relief after that.”
The Shiver Plunge was a prelude to a bonanza of activity at Lions Park and Handke Stadium — all part of Shiver Elk River, billed as a community chill-a-bration. The event was put on by the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber Board, led by Alan Sakry, is already talking of hosting a second annual event.
This year’s event included a chili contest that pitted local businesses against one another for some friendly competition. A couple of hundred people tasted the chili inside Lions Park Center. Holiday Inn was chosen the winner.
There was also snow golf, sledding, ice hockey and a sled dog show put on by Shawn Lanning of Hastings Huskies and Horses.
Dozens of families took to snow golf, a wintertime version of the summer sport where participants used irons and tennis balls.
About 100 to 150 took in the sled dog show.
At Handke, there was a hockey tournament won by one of two teams from Central Bank that competed.
Judging by the smiles and the fun people were having, the event was deemed a success by organizers.
“We hoped to have 25 jumpers for the plunge, and we had 45,” said Debbi Rydberg, the president of the chamber. “We hoped to have eight chilies. We had 10. We hoped to raise about $3,000 for organizations. We raised more than $10,000.
“I’m really proud of the way the community stepped up and contributed.”
Hemmesch, a server for Denny’s in Otsego who also works with special needs children in the Elk River school system, got a late start on his fund-raising efforts, but still managed to collect several hundred dollars for the humane society.
He has a law enforcement degree from Alexandria Tech, but most police departments are not hiring right now so he’s staying busy in the meantime.
That means getting involved and volunteering his time. That’s how his parents taught him to operate, he says.
“Shiver was a great event,” he said. “My passion is helping other people. I try to volunteer as much as I can. This was a good thing to do.”
Even if he did set the bar for craziness a little high.