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Evergreen dives into 2010: Big numbers turn out for Skate the Lake, Big Brrr!

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By Vicky Gits

Skate the Lake on New Year’s Eve sold more than 2,100 tickets, and the Big Brrr! Evergreen Lake Plunge on New Year’s Day had 215 human icicles, almost twice as many as last year.

Aided by excellent weather, both events more than met organizers’ expectations. The Big Brrr! netted $11,000 for Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer and the special-needs program of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. The amount of the proceeds, or gross sales minus expenses, from Skate the Lake was not available.

“It was in my opinion the most successful Skate the Lake we have held so far,” said Jackie Mohr, executive director of Drive Smart. “The snow sculptures were very well received, and the conditions were great on the ice.”

Mohr estimates that hundreds of children under age 8 also were in attendance; they were admitted free. Some 250 volunteers were on hand as well.

For the record, 2010 was the third year Mohr has jumped into the lake. “It doesn’t get any less scary,” she said. “It’s exciting, and it’s liberating. Every year it’s an accomplishment, and every year it’s great.”

The idea of soaking in an ice bath to celebrate the new year appeared to really catch on in 2010, attracting a record number. Of those that registered, 135 signed up at the last minute, probably spurred on by the sunny, warm and windless weather.

Participants were in a wacky and festive mood, with many dressed in costumes. One woman wore a sequin bikini and another a flowing white princess wig. Three middle-school boys wore dresses.

“It was a really fun event,” said Maren Schreiber, executive director of the special-needs program. “The audience was huge. The weather was perfect.” Alan Gionet, news anchor with Channel 4, and Jeffco Sheriff Ted Mink handled the emcee duties. Both live in Evergreen. Gionet got the audience involved in executing pre-plunge “waves.”

The Big Brrr! also benefited from extra advertising and from lowering the age limit from 14 to 7 this year, Schreiber said.

There were 17 inches of ice on the lake and 2 feet of ice in the cove near the Lake House where the scantily clad divers faced their icy liquid fate.

“The weather was perfect both days,” Mohr said. “There’s no way to describe how well everything went.”

About 500 people stood around the edges of the cove watching as one by one the participants, ranging in age from 7 to 78, cannon-balled, stepped, tiptoed and lunged into the abyss. Ably assisting them out of the drink were divers from Evergreen Fire/Rescue.

Tallgrass Aveda Spa of Evergreen, led by owner Gail Ridings, turned out in force with 12 staff members decked out in bathrobes, flip-flops, turbans and pea-green facial masks.

“Our mission statement that just changed is to awe and inspire our guests and each other. I wanted to do something that would awe and inspire,” Ridings said. “I think this was a good way.

“It was just amazing. It is so cold it almost stops your body. Luckily, there are these wonderful, strong, sweet firemen, and they help you physically get over to the ladder. You have a hard time moving. But once I got up and put on my robe, I was fine,” Ridings said.

But it looks so painful.

“It really isn’t bad. It’s fun. You are only in the water for three seconds,” Ridings said.

Before she jumped, Taria Powers, 41, revealed she had stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before. What was she thinking about?

“In five minutes I can say I did it,” she said.

Six young men in their 30s who all work for United National Foods in Aurora were jumping for charity. “You can’t prepare for something like this,” said David Jones of Wheat Ridge.

“We’re scared,” was the word from Jennifer Reding, 15, as she stood shivering with her friend Laura Goldstein, 15.

“It was scary at first but not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Nancy Mathre of Denver, the 78-year-old jumper, after doing the deed.

There were 2 feet of ice in the cove where the plunge took place, and 17 inches out on the lake. The weather conditions were sunny and almost 50 degrees by the noon when the jumpers started to line up.

“It was a blast. It couldn’t have gone better. It was the best plunge ever,” Mohr said.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.