Get Your Plunge On! Plungapalooza '09 Featuring the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge Set for January 24 at Sandy Point State Park

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The Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge is scheduled for Saturday, January 24th at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland. More than 10,000 people are expected to participate, and as many as 20,000 additional spectators will be on hand. The all-day event includes a full winter festival with live music, vendors and craters, boardwalk-themed games, and the first-ever Miss Polar Bear Plunge Pageant. For more info visit http://www.plungemd.com

the most depressing day of the year.

The popular winter-time fundraiser known as the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge is back for its 13th frigid year, once again offering chills and thrills for the whole family on Saturday, January 24, 2009 at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. And with participation 40% ahead of this same time last year and a $3 million fundraising goal, organizers are looking at this plunge to help keep Special Olympics Maryland afloat during these challenging economic times.

Dubbed the Aerotek Plungapalooza '09 and featuring the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge XIII, the full-day festival opens at 8 a.m. with mass Plunges taking place at both 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Wanna-be Plungers need only raise a minimum of $50 in pledges (or a personal donation) in order to be a part of the fun. For that contribution, all participants receive the commemorative Plunge sweatshirt, lunch courtesy of Damon's Grill and a photo gift. Additional event premiums are available for those raising $500 and above.

Registration is now open for the event and available online at http://www.plungemd.com or by calling 1-800-541-7544 x503. Participants who may have experienced delays in registering in 2008 will be pleased to know that the entire process has been revamped so that they can "freeze in the water, not in line." Improvements include the new FREEZ-E Pass system that allows pre-registered Plungers to use designated FREEZ-E Pass Only lanes, and a new Packet Pick-Up option at Special Olympics Maryland's Headquarters Office beginning Saturday, January 17.

Aerotek Plungapalooza is open to the public free of charge. General parking at Sandy Point State Park is extremely limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis only. Reservations for school or charter buses are accepted by contacting organizers at plunge (at) somd.org or calling 410-789-6677. All others are encouraged to utilize the free Polar Express shuttle bus system that will run continuous routes all day long from the Naval Academy Stadium, Anne Arundel Community College and Kent Island High School.

The event has increased in popularity amongst local celebrities and politicians and scheduled to appear or participate in 2009 are Governor Martin O'Malley and his family; Baltimore Ravens Assistant Head Coach Rex Ryan; Ravens players Adam Terry - OT, Joe Flacco - QB, Todd Heap - TE, Jason Brown - Center, and Haloti Ngata - NT; WBAL-TV's Jennifer Franciotti, Barry Simms, Rod Daniels, Lowell Melser and Rob Roblin; 98 Rock's Mickey, Amelia & Spiegel Morning Show, Stash, Theo, Don Koenig and Sarah "The Queen" Fleischer; and Steve Rouse, Steve Davis and Bob Ehrlich from WBAL-AM.

Plungapalooza '09
The event has grown into a "can't-miss" spectacle that includes much more than just the Plunge, and 2009 will be no exception. Plungers and spectators alike are invited to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the boardwalk-themed festival tent - a huge, heated tent located on the grounds of Sandy Point State Park. Attractions include boardwalk-style games and displays, telescope photos, local and national vendors, live music by The Kelley Bell Band and 8 ohms, and other entertainment, event merchandise sales, a Plunge Food Court, live pig-racing action, sandcastle building, and a special area just for the kids with games, inflatables, face painting and more. Old favorites like the costume contest, live remote by 98 Rock, and the morning action at the Super Plunge Village will also be on the schedule. Vendor and crafter applications are now be accepted and are available at http://www.plungemd.com or by calling 410-789-6677 x113.

New for 2009 is a Polar Bear Plunge Pageant where 3 lucky ladies will be crowned Miss Polar Bear Plunge, Little Miss Polar Bear Plunge and Miss Hypothermic Hon.

The Plunge Phenomenon
Why has this event become such an institution? For some it's a tradition, for others it's done on a dare. It's on many Plunge participants' "bucket lists". It's something to look forward to in the post-holiday doldrums of winter, counteracting the late January date that has been tagged "the most depressing day of the year." And it's just about as daredevil as many Plungers ever want to get.

Whatever the reason, this chilly charity event has become one of the top fundraisers in Maryland, earning an estimated $3.5 million for Special Olympics Maryland in 2008 thanks to the 10,000 participants of all ages who were daring enough to take a dip in the wintry waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Plunge is open to the public free of charge thanks to the support of: Presenting Sponsors Aerotek, Union 486, Mike's Famous Harley Davidson, Rams Head Live and Wal-Mart; Legacy Partner Constellation Energy; Community Partner The Baltimore Council of Ravens Roosts; Media Partners 98 Rock, Comcast, WBAL-TV11 and WBAL-AM 1090; Official Medical Provider John Hopkins Emergency Medicine; Gold Sponsors Toyota, Fed Ex, Fence and Deck Connection, Party Perfect, Graul's Market, Frank Gumpert Printing, and Patuxent Companies.

About Special Olympics Maryland
The Plunge is the organization's largest single-day fundraiser, grossing more than $10 million in support of 10,000 Special Olympics Maryland athletes since its inception in 1997. Due in large part to the success of the 2008 Plunge, SOMD has implemented Young Athletes -- an innovative new "play" program for youngsters ages 2 to 7. This program focuses on early intervention in building and improving fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in children with intellectual disabilities.

SOMD is a year-round sports organization dedicated to providing quality sports training and competition opportunities to Maryland's children and adults with intellectual disabilities and/or closely related development disabilities. SOMD currently serves 10,000 athletes statewide, and offers 28 sports, all at no cost to the athletes or their families. For more information about SOMD visit http://www.somd.org or call 410-789-6677 x117.

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