10 Ways the Chicago Polar Plunge, Presented by Jackson, Represents the Very Best of Chicago

The 24th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge, presented by Jackson, will take place on Sunday, March 3rd at North Avenue Beach. The Chicago Polar Plunge is the largest plunge in the Midwest, and throughout the decades has become an iconic Chicago event. How Chicago is it? Check out our list of the top 10 ways it embodies some of our city’s greatest features!

1. The iconic Chicago skyline
When you take the plunge into Lake Michigan, you’ll be among the amazing historic buildings of Downtown Chicago. As you come out of the water, you’ll see the skyline as a great reminder that you’re plunging to make our city a better place!

2. We love our Chicago sports teams
Whether you root for the Northside, Southside, basketball, hockey, football, or soccer, you’ll be among friends, with tons of participants who show their pride for their favorite teams.

3. It’s winter, and we know that a good weather forecast is clutch
We wouldn’t invite you to North Avenue Beach without checking the weather first! Over the past 24 years, we’ve had Tom Skilling, Andy Avalos, and even Al Roker join us to give their forecasts (They all said it was cold).

4. Our teams show their neighborhood pride
Chicagoans’ sense of neighborhood pride is unmatched, and our plungers make sure to get their neighbors involved in the fun and fundraising! Teams like Parker’s Party get dozens of local supporters to participate each year, and North Center neighborhood hangout My Buddy’s always appears in amazing group costumes.

5. The Chicago flag is everywhere
You’ll see those red stars and light blue stripes all over the event! Along with plungers flying the flag, you’ll spot it on shirts, towels, shorts, capes, and more! Even our mascot, Shiver – the Polar Bear, gets in on it!

6. We’re part of Chicago history
Did you know that the Chicago Polar Plunge has been an annual event for 24 years? Did you know that the first Special Olympics games were held at Soldier Field in 1968? It’s all true! We checked with local historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas when he took the plunge in 2022.

7. We love a good Chicago-based TV Show
Just like you, if it’s set in Chicago, we’re in! Stars from television shows Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med are some of our favorites. They have participated for almost a decade! We’re lucky to have a huge team made of their cast and crew participate each year.

8. We love a good hot dog
This is Chicago, and we are required to have hot dogs present at all events. Luckily, our plungers always come through for us (even if some of them add ketchup).

9. No matter how cold it gets, we’re always up for a day at the beach
Here in the Windy City, we’re not afraid of a little chilly weather, and we never let it stop us from enjoying the best day of the year at North Avenue Beach. In January, we wear our jean jacket on the Blue Line, in February we pull on a hoodie to run to Jewel, and in March, we put on a bathing suit and jump into Lake Michigan. No biggie.

10. We’re all about inclusion
We’re here to have fun, but we’re also here to make Chicago a more inclusive city. The funds raised at this event helps Special Olympics Chicago/Special Children’s Charities continue its work providing programs and resources for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all 77 Chicago neighborhoods. We are proud of the work we do year-round, and we are always working to make the Chicago Polar Plunge more accessible so that everyone can take part. 

Make a splash on March 3! Sign up today at chicagopolarplunge.org!

This article has been supplied by Special Olympics Chicago/Special Children’s Charities, a paid advertiser. The editorial staff of Chicago magazine had no role in this post’s preparation.