Skate the Lake and Plunge set for New Year’s

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By Stephen Knapp

The old year swiftly skates away, and temperatures are dropping. Why should you be any different? In these parts, Skate the Lake and the Evergreen Lake Plunge are favorite winter traditions old and new, so lace up, grease up, hurry up, and reserve a happy piece of the White Season while supplies last.

This year, Drive Smart Evergreen/Conifer’s wildly popular non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve winter festival will offer all the cool thrills of previous parties, plus a value-added feature that should please those for whom ice is best enjoyed floating in their favorite beverage. Skate the Lake XII, kicking off before dark on Dec. 31, will offer the same great food, great music, great light show and great friends as always, plus an expansive dance tent with a dedicated DJ. Fireworks play at 8 o’clock and midnight, so whether you want a good winter-night’s sleep or prefer to go the distance, you’re in for an eyeful.

New Year’s on Evergreen Lake is still a modest $15 per tassled hat for those registering by Dec. 14, thanks in no small part to title sponsor Intero Real Estate. Late-comers and walk-ins pay a paltry $5 more. Either way, tickets are abundantly available in Evergreen at both recreation centers, Design Repeats, Paragon Sports and Stems, and in Conifer at Buster’s Natural Pet Supply and Aspen Perk. Those believing that base cash insults the wallet and degrades the spirit can just use their credit card at www.drivesmarte-c.org. Attendance is limited to 3,000, so why are you still sitting there reading this?

If you’re not one of those few, those happy few — OK, not so few — that jumped in the lake last New Year’s Day, you’ve probably been hearing about it ever since from them what did. Silence those braggarts; end your shame; regain your dignity; learn what fur seals already know — ice-water rocks, and there’ll be plenty of it at the Evergreen Lake Plunge, another fine product by Drive Smart, on Jan. 1.

Shivering starts at high noon, aided by title sponsor Wealth Design and the masterful jeering of KCNC anchor Alan Gionet, and abetted by the likes of Sheriff Ted Mink and the helpful sadists at Evergreen Fire/Rescue. Pre-registered maniacs can plunge for a mere $25, while those who suddenly lose their marbles that morning can be an Evergreen Lake Pedestrian for $35. Both kinds get a free event T-shirt, free hot chocolate courtesy of Caffe di Lucca, and bragging rights for, well, for one calendar year, anyway.

“And we’re doing Push-a-Cop again,” says Maren Schreiber, special needs coordinator for event partner Evergreen Park and Recreation District. “People loved Push-a-Cop.”

Of course they did. And since misery loves company, and courage comes easier when your friends are looking, team jumping proved a popular — and colorful — part of last year’s Plunge.

“It’s a lot of fun that way,” says Jackie Mohr, executive director of Drive Smart and one of the first in the water last year. “Form a team, give yourselves a name, make up some costumes and get some sponsors.”

Ah, yes, sponsors. Those of us with better sense and a better sense of self-preservation. Those preferring the dry comfort of the lakeshore to the frigid depths can still goad the silly and deranged into the water for our own cruel amusement. Or for the sake of the event’s beneficiaries: the EPRD special needs program, Special Olympics and Drive Smart.

To avoid last year’s unexpectedly hilarious and sloppy “lake effect,” spectators will be confined to the shore, and plungers will be brought to their doom in convenient groups. And, naturally, there’ll be lots of hot food and warm memories.

To learn more about the Evergreen Lake Plunge or to pre-register, visit www.evergreenlakeplunge.com.