BAES PTO announces Polar Plunge

Buckhannon Academy Elementary School needs money for new playground equipment, so it’s going to charge people for the privilege of jumping into the Buckhannon River on Feb. 1 during its first annual Polar Plunge.

“We know it’s cold, but our playground is old,” school officials say.

“Plunge for a playground” festivities, complete with music and concessions, will take place at the Wood Street Boat Ramp. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

A costume contest will kick off at 10 a.m.. There will be ice fairies, snow troopers and various other creatures from the icy north – and points beyond. They will parade before judges and the crowd for a chance to win tickets for a ghost hunt at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

Contestants can compete alone or as members of a team. Costumes should be family-friendly, organizers say.

Then it’s time for the plunge. Participants will approach water’s edge in small groups, and they can either dip their toes in the river or wade in up to their necks. Participants are asked to protect their feet by wearing shoes, sandals, sneakers, hikers or wellies.

They can then retreat to warming stations provided by the Upshur County Office of Emergency Management. Safety personnel will be on hand to ensure that everyone has a great time that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Amanda Mason, kindergarten teacher at BAES, said, “At BAES, our facilities and equipment committee has looked into the possible funds for replacing our current playgrounds. Both playgrounds are very outdated, and our K-2 playground is literally falling apart. The wood play equipment is weathered and not nearly as sturdy as it once was or needs to be.

“We have anywhere from 90-120 kids on the playground at a time – sometimes more than three times each day. We need new, safe and developmentally appropriate play areas for children ages 5-12.”

BAES PTO president Krista Sappey said. “We’re working to raise money to purchase and install new playground equipment for the nearly 600 students attending our school. If taking a swim in freezing temperatures helps out our kids, then that is a plunge we are willing to take. We really hope this helps us to be able to provide a wonderful safe and fun environment for all of our students.”

The charges for taking a plunge are $20 for adults and $15 for students. Prospective participants are encouraged to set their own price of at least $20 and then round up sponsors.

There will be chances at other prizes for both participants and spectators, including tickets for the American Mountain Theater, Elkins Dinner Train, a night of free camping at Audra State Park, a culinary tour of Buckhannon, a family fun pack and memberships to Rob’s Fitness Factory.

The grand prize is two weekly grounds passes for the Greenbrier Classic, including admission to the concerts.

More information is available at, and at 304-878-3236.