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Sunday, March 3

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Events Sun Mar 02 2014

Fallon Brings Star Power to 14th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge

For the 14th annual Chicago Polar Plunge, thousands took to North Avenue Beach to jump in the water, endure the freezing temperatures for moral support, and of course, to watch "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon take on the Polar Plunge challenge.

Photo by Ashlee Rezin for Sun-Times Media

Conditions this morning were less than friendly. At the start of the festivities, the temperature recorded was 9° and felt like -8°. Jimmy picked a frigid season to take on a challenge in Chicago, but it didn't take away from the plunging spirit. More than 3,000 jumpers participated today, according to a Special Olympics Chicago organizer. Despite the freezing weather, there were no signs of negativity on the lakefront. If anything, Fallon's participation in the plunge caused an abundance of excitement, as the crowd broke through the barricade set up on the lake when Jimmy took his dip.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

Much of the excitement at the Polar Plunge every year comes from the costumes, and by Fallon's request, there were neckties galore, while another crew continued the tradition of intricate Wizard of Oz costumes for the dip.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

For those who watched or read about the plunge from the warmth of their own homes, it seems crazy why so many would volunteer to jump into the lake in March of Chicago's third coldest and snowiest winter on record, but each plunger has his or her own motivations.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

A participant named Karen, who asked her last name not be disclosed, and a friend of hers who made the same request, plunged for the first time this year dressed as a nun and a priest. Karen's motivation to participate was for a personal goal. "My 50th birthday is in a month and plunging is on my bucket list."

Others participated for the benefit of volunteering in the community. A group of litigation defense attorneys from the firm Bryce Downey & Lenkov LLC dressed as literal polar plungers. The firm has done the plunge annually for four years simply because they enjoy volunteering and being active in the Chicago community.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

Even some Chicago police offers took the morning off to make the plunge. Although they represented the CPD, they took the full risk: no bulletproof vest and no pants.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

Thanks to all those who braced the cold and Jimmy Fallon for taking on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's challenge, Special Olympics Chicago organizers are hoping to break the million dollar record today.

Photo by Rima Mandwee

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