Tri-State Polar Plunge tradition delayed due to pandemic

Polar Plunge to Wash 2020 Away
Polar Plunge to Wash 2020 Away
Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:24 AM CST
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DEARBORN COUNTY, In. (FOX19) - New Year’s Day is full of traditions, including plunging into 2021 in Indiana.

At Hidden Valley Lake, it’s not the weather that put a dampener on the yearly New Year’s Polar Plunge, but the pandemic rules on gathering.

“It was a tough decision,” Polar Plunge co-Host Darryl Howe said of not hosting the event. “But I did talk with the Dearborn County Health Department, and I also ran it through our head valley board, and they were supportive of it as long as we were able to comply with the current requirements, covered requirements.”

In Dearborn County, gatherings of more than 25 are not allowed. Typically the Polar Plunge attracts hundreds.

“This is a big part of their family tradition,” Polar Plunge co-Host Ashley Howe said. “They come every year to do this. It was really hard to say no to it at this time.”

The hope, Howe says, is that by the next plunge in February the county will have reduced its incident-rate alert level color from its current ‘red’ status.

Howe understands and appreciates the toll of the pandemic more than most.

“I might be the only person you’ll meet that COVID saved their life,” she said, explaining a sinus infection in early 2020 led to a test for the virus. “They did a flu test, a COVID test, then a chest x-ray, and they call back 48 hours later, and they said, ‘Your COVID was fine, but you do have lung cancer.’”

Because of the early test, Howe was treated, and today she has a promising prognosis.

“It was not in my lymph node yet,” she said. “It was called surgery for cure, so basically, they took out part out of my lungs, and that’s it. so COVID totally saved my life, because it’s the only reason I went in. So those numbers, you have to subtract one, because it saved me, it truly did.”

In February, when the official plunge resumes, Howe says she will dive right in.

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