Splish Splash 

The average low temperature in Memphis for February 3rd is 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Baseline human sanity suggests February 3rd might be a great day to stay inside and have a movie marathon or play a Monopoly tournament (best of seven wins). But human reason has flown the coop for participants in the 8th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Mud Island River Park this Saturday. Thinking (or hoping) themselves arctic carnivores with water-repellant fur, Polar Bear plungers will pitch themselves into the Mississippi River -- voluntarily. Oh, the humanity!

There is a method to the madness, of course. The Polar Bear Plunge benefits Greater Memphis Special Olympics; plungers have raised money for the charity through sponsors of their individual river dip. Each big dipper has raised at least $50, so head on down and cheer them on for their efforts, or, better yet, show your mettle and partake in the ice-cold charitable baptism yourself. The plunge takes place at noon. The Golden Plunger Award will be given for the wackiest plunger attire, and prizes will be given based on the amount each person raises.

Paired with the Polar Bear Plunge is a chili cook-off, sanctioned by the International Chili Society and the Memphis Restaurant Association. Winners of the cook-off will qualify for the national chili competition in Omaha. The red-chili cook-off winner will net $500. There will be a People's Choice Tasting from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the awards will be handed out at 2 p.m. (Reminder: Plungers should make sure they haven't eaten any chili after 11:30 a.m. Don't want to cramp up.)

Participants in the Polar Bear Plunge better hope for a local outbreak of global warming, fast. No wet suits or dry suits are allowed.

Polar Bear Plunge and Chili Cook-off, Saturday, February 3rd. Mud Island River Park. Go to www.torchrunevents.org for more information.

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