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It’s always cold for the Breton Beach Polar Bear Plunge. That’s the idea. But Saturday’s event, now in its fourth year, was memorably frigid.

“Obviously, it was very cold; air temps around 25 and water temp was 35,” wrote Mike Kibler, who organizes the annual plunge into Breton Bay. But “everyone was safe, and we all had a great time.”

Approximately 23 people ran out into the icy water, while about 25 watched from shore. It was the smallest turnout yet for the event. The largest crowd came out in 2012, when about 125 participated.

But the plungers and spectators together donated 10 to 12 grocery bags of canned food and cash donations and commitments approaching $800, which will all go to St. Mary’s Caring soup kitchen in Lexington Park, according to Kibler. The plunge itself is free to participate. The contributions to the soup kitchen are voluntary.

After the plunge, participants warmed up at a post-plunge party, which was held this year at Breton Bay Golf and Country Club.

How does it feel to get into the water in the middle of winter? “The feeling is hard to describe,” Kibler said. “But it definitely takes your breath away, and your skin tingles.”

Susan Craton