The annual Polar Bear Dip, organized each year by Washington County Community College’s Student Senate, is an event of unique character. Scores of participants dressed in often vibrant outfits race into the icy waters of Passamaquoddy Bay, creating a spectacle for those in attendance and symbolically concluding the largest fundraiser in the area for Ronald McDonald House in Bangor and Sarah’s House in Holden. This year, dippers will be honoring the theme of “Dippin’ through the Decades” by wearing vintage outfits as they take the plunge on Friday, March 2nd at noon.
The first Polar Bear Dip was organized as something of a dare, but the event soon embraced the important cause of fundraising for the vital services that Ronald McDonald House and Sarah’s House provide. Both locations offer individuals – and, at times, their families – receiving medical treatments in the Bangor area a place to stay the night, saving them the sometimes-unmanageable costs of paying for lodging on top of traveling. For rural Down East Mainers, having a place to rest after making the trip inland and enduring potentially painful treatments is an irreplaceable asset. Like many in the community, members of the staff, faculty, and students of WCCC have found timely respite at either establishment.
The WCCC Polar Bear Dip has since become one of the largest fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House and Sarah’s House, raising a combined total of more than $320,000. Every dipper collects pledges from their friends and family members, contributing all of the funds raised to the cause. Dippers that raise more than $75 will receive a Polar Bear Dip shirt featuring a design based on this year’s theme.
The Polar Bear Dip is held each year at Split Rock on the Passamaquoddy Reservation at Pleasant Point. Everyone in attendance will be invited to enjoy free hot food and beverages provided by area sponsors and the Student Senate, and dippers will be monitored by trained divers on stand-by and emergency services provided in part by the tribe.