Lake of the Ozarks, MO. - With average temperatures hovering in the mid-30s throughout the month of February, most people in Central Missouri are still wrapped up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves -- the whole works. There is, however, one exception. On Saturday, Feb. 27, many brave souls will buck the 
winter weather, wear funny costumes and bare more skin than what's typically advisable this time of year and charge into the frigid waters of the Lake of the Ozarks to raise money for Special Olympics Missouri during the 21st annual Polar Plunge.
Crystal Schuster, development manager for Special Olympics Missouri and Polar Plunge organizer, believes it's a great event for a great cause and has personally made the plunge twice. "It's a really fun event. Cold, but a lot of fun. I think it's something everyone should try at least once," she says.

The event takes place at Public Beach #2 in Lake of the Ozarks State Park and draws over 600 participants and an additional 1,500 spectators each year. Registration for the 2016 event begins at noon and runs until 1:50 p.m. Many people dress up for their plunge, so the event begins with a costume parade at 2 p.m., before all the 
participants run, walk or crawl into the chilly water at 2:30 p.m. 

Once the splashing and shivering has ceased, the fun continues with a Post-Plunge Party at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach from 4-7 p.m. The party will feature the presentation of the "Golden Plunger Awards" for the best costumes, a silent and live auction as well as food and drinks. The Post-Plunge Party is free for participants and costs $5 per guest. All proceeds from the party will go to Special Olympics Missouri.

According to Schuster, the 2015 Lake of the Ozarks Polar Plunge raised $210,000 for Special Olympics Missouri and attracted a lot of people from around Central Missouri to the Lake. "Aside from being a unique and enjoyable fundraiser, it's also a fantastic way to bring different communities together for a great charity," Schuster adds.

In total, there are 14 different Polar Plunges that take place around the state throughout the month of February to generate funds for the organization's year-round program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. All participants fundraise for the Special Olympics prior to the plunge and prizes are awarded for top fundraisers. Last year's 14 plunges raised over $1 million and Schuster is confident they can match and hopefully exceed that total this year.

To ensure that all attendees have a safe and enjoyable day, Special Olympics takes every precaution, making sure to have lifeguards, divers, medical and emergency personnel, heaters, warming shelters and warming mechanisms on hand at every event. There also will be concession tents offering food, hot chocolate, coffee and other refreshments, as well as a souvenir tent selling Polar Plunge merchandise. 

While the Polar Plunge is considered the main attraction, there also will be several other activities that accompany the event. On Friday, Feb. 26, there are two additional plunges: the PeeWee Plunge and the Super Plunge. The PeeWee Plunge, which features a heated tent and warm-water pool, begins at 6:30 p.m. and is for children 9 years and younger that also want to contribute. The Super Plunge, consisting of 24 dips in the Lake within a 24-hour period, is for fundraisers who want to go way above and beyond. Both the PeeWee and Super plunges take place at the boat dock at Public Beach #2 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

On Saturday morning, before the Polar Plunge gets underway, there is the Polar Bear Strut 5K walk/run, which begins and concludes at the City Hall building in Osage Beach. Registration for the 5K runs from 8-9:30 a.m., with the walk/run kicking off at 10 a.m.  

The Polar Plunge and Polar Bear Strut are projects of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Missouri and is proudly hosted by the Osage Beach Police Department.  

For more information on all the Polar Plunge activities at the Lake of the Ozarks and throughout the state, or for details on how to volunteer or donate, visit Special Olympics Missouri's website at

Many "plungers" and spectators build a winter weekend getaway around the Polar Plunge to take advantage of the off-season lodging rates and smaller crowds at the various year-around attractions and activities at the Lake. For other fun events, or for more information on all attractions and lodging and dining options at the "Best Recreational Lake" in the Nation, visit the the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau's award-winning website,, or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).

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For additional media assistance on the Lake of the Ozarks, please contact The Beenders Walker Group at 573-636-8282, or email Marjorie Beenders, Jo Duncan or Kyle Stewart.
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Phone: 800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253) Fax: 573-348-2293  

P.O. Box 1498  Osage Beach, MO 65065

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