Police are hoping that a record number of people will take the plunge this weekend to help Special Olympics Washington.
The Polar Plunge fundraiser is organized by law enforcement agencies across the state and the Tri-City event is for Saturday at Columbia Park in Kennewick.
As of Monday, 416 river jumpers had confirmed reservations for the noon event.
Kennewick Police Sgt. Randy Maynard said 642 people jumped into the Columbia River last year.
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Water temperatures are usually about 35 to 37 degrees.
"We like to tell people on Saturday that it's a balmy 65 degrees -- it's not really," Maynard said, laughing.
Despite the frigid temperatures, teams and individuals often wear colorful costumes to add some fun as they jump off the boat launch dock at the east end of Columbia Park.
Divers are waiting in the water and dockside to make sure everyone makes it out safely. Participants quickly warm up again by plopping into nearby hot tubs.
Each participant must raise a minimum of $50 to plunge. Individuals who raise the minimum donation will receive an official Polar Plunge T-shirt, and entry to the post-event party.
Check-in is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, when participants can also register. But those wanting to avoid last-minute lines can check in and register from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Fred Meyer in Kennewick, 2811 W. 10th Ave. You get a free towel if you pick up your registration package and T-shirt there.
More information is available at http://bit.ly/2014plunge.
Maynard hopes the Fred Meyer event will help the Polar Plunge reach its goal of 1,000 participants. He estimates they have raised at least $40,000 so far this year.
The Polar Plunge has a team fundraising campaign, which was being led by Team Battelle.
A costume contest is at 11:15 a.m. with the plunge beginning at noon.
All proceeds collected benefit Special Olympics Washington and the 10,000 athletes statewide.
Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg said he won't be jumping again this Saturday because he still is recovering from a cold, but he is excited to see how the Polar Plunge has become a major community event in seven years.
Hohenberg has a brother-in-law with Down syndrome who has participated in Special Olympics.
"As the years go by, the plunge has taken on such great community support," he said. "It attracts a lot of people who want to support Special Olympics."
Contact Maynard at 509-582-1313 or via email Randy.Maynard@Ci.kennewick.wa.us for more information.