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New Year's Day Tradition is Back with the Parker Polar Plunge

After Four Year Lay-Off


Original Polar Bear Founders: Tom Myer, Tony Davenport, Steve Saye, Kline Terwilliger, Bob Bowser and Greg Bowser.


As printed in the Progress News on 1-16-07.

Parker: The newly formed Parker City Polar Bear Club took their first winter dip in the Allegheny River at the boat dock in Parker at 2:05 pm on January 1, 2007. There were about fifty people watching and cheering the divers.


After a several-year layoff, the Parker Polar Plunge has been revitalized.

A big part of the regenerated interest has been Shelly Kaltenbach, Employment Recruiter and Community Liaison of UFP Parker, LLC.

“Our goal moving forward is to have more of a presence in the community and help our communities grow. We feel socially responsible to give back to the community in which we live and work; Family-Community-Respect.

Universal Forest Products, LLC is the largest employer in the area with the Polar Plunge located just outside their doors.

Thanks to the Shelly and UFP Parker, LLC, Bud Amsler, Paige Amsler, and Mandy Libecco the tradition will continue in Parker. Volunteers are also needed on the day of the event.

The event has grown over the years with 2011 being the most heavily participated with 475 plungers with just as many along the banks to witness the feat. Quite a draw for the smallest city.

In 2009, $1164 was raised with twelve-year-old Madeline Toy of Karns City raising $350.00.

Over the years they have come from near and far, as both young and old gather in celebration of the upcoming new year. Many dresses in their own unique costumes, Over the years the jump has attracted the Blues Brothers, Vikings, Gladiators, Keg Heads, Santa Claus, Penguins, etc.

The traditional New Year’s Eve celebration has given way to a New Year’s day event in Parker, PA.

For many, the cold frigid water is a boost that regenerates the body, it has become a symbol of the new year and new beginnings for all. Call it a cleansing if you will.

What started on New Year's day in 2007 with six bored friends and their shenanigans (Bob Bowser, Greg Bowser, Kline Terwilliger, Tony Davenport, Steve Saye, and Tom Myers) jumping into the river for “no apparent reason” has manifested itself into the areas most thrilling forms of entertainment. The “original six” as now dubbed, have turned “no reason” into a great reason and marketing concept for Parker and its River Avenue businesses.

The event will be held at the Parker City Boat Launch with registration beginning at 9:00 am with a 2:00 PM jump time. The cost is $10 a person and you will receive a free T-shirt with registration while supplies last. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Parker Volunteer Fire Department as well as other local charities and organizations.

There will be a community bonfire, basket raffles, 50/50 drawings as well as vendors to occupy your time as you await your frozen dip!

Downtown businesses are joining the celebration by offering fantastic food specials as well as live music.

The Parker VFW Post 7073 will be open to the public at 9 am serving breakfast for those of you who want an early start!

Under new ownership, the former Riverstone, now O’Donnell’s Bar & Grill, will be open on both sides at 9 AM. They will be having food specials as well as live music after the plunge with Present Tense playing from 3 PM to 3 PM.

The Parker House will be open from 11 AM to close with the kitchen open from 11 AM - 3 PM. Stop in “the oldest building in the smallest city in the US”.

A look back at the Polar Plunge by the numbers:

2006: Freezin’ for no reason, the initial six take a plunge!

2008: 34 participants raised $559.

2009: Event raised $1164

2010: 209 Polar Plungers

2011: Polar Plunge peaks out with 474 participants.

2013: 308 Participants

2014: 308 Brave souls jumped into a frigid Allegheny River with a water temp. of 33 degrees.

2015: 259 Participants

2016 - 10th Annual - 255

2017: Was almost a no-go because of lack of help. The first meeting was canceled. In the last month seventy sponsors reached out to help the cause. Nearly $6500 was raised in revenue.

2018: This was the last year the plunge was held.

Volunteers are needed on the day of the event! Call Shelly at 814-316-1033.

Looking for something to do on New Year’s Day? Come join the fun in Parker and bring the whole family. Start the new year right and knock an item off the bucket list.

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