Arctic Plunge brings thrills, chills

Staff photos by Gage Cureton A team of gorilla-suited jumpers from D&A Trucking took first place for most elaborate costumes, and the biggest splash. See more photos on Page 8A, and on the website

NEW ULM — From monkey suits to Santa Claus and even the Mona Lisa, people lined up in a variety of costumes to take a plunge into the frigid waters for New Ulm’s First Annual Arctic Plunge Saturday.

The Arctic Plunge, hosted by Lamplighter Family Bar and Grill, featured an auction, music, food and a variety of costumed-plungers eager to take a dive into the waters of the large tank placed in Minnesota Street.

Lamplighter owner Herb Knutson said he use to host arctic plunges at his restaurant in Isanti, and he’s happy to bring the community together for a good cause to raise funds for New Ulm area organizations.

“I used to do it up in Isanti,” he said. “And we moved down here to be a part of the community and we thought this is the perfect situation. The money goes locally.”

Knutson said proceeds from donations go to the New Ulm Fire Department, Brown County Humane Society, the local food shelf and Committee Against Domestic Abuse (CADA).

Arctic Plunge organizer Herb Knutson introduced the jumping teams.

He said he isn’t aware of the exact amount raised Saturday, but he’s sure it’s “more than $10,000.

Before the plunge began, a live mock-auction featuring New Ulm Fire Department firefighters had spectators bidding on them for a date. An additional $265 was raised from the mock-auction.

Before long, plungers began racing up to the tank and jumping in as judges assessed costumes and sizes of splashes.

The D&A Trucking team, dressed in monkey suits, won first place for elaborate costumes and biggest splash. They caused mayhem as they danced up to the tank, tossing bananas at spectators and soaking the judges after they cannon-balled into the water.

Jamie Berg of D and A Trucking said their team raised about $700 and they didn’t mind the frigid water.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It goes to a great cause.”

Second place winners for costume and splash size are the St. Francis Lions team who raised $160. Third place was a tie with Kelly Wendler who raised $425 and Mona Lisa, a man dressed as the famous painting, who raised $480.

Knutson said he looks foward to next year and plans to host an even more elaborate arctic plunge. He may even consider taking part in the plunge next year.

“The fact is, for the amount of time we put this together in a short time,” he said. “Next year will be bigger and better. But they got to raise a lot more money for me to jump in.”