Family and Community Traditions for the Holidays
Some of my favorite memories involve family holiday traditions. When I was a kid, my sister and I would bake and decorate hundreds of Christmas cookies with my Grandma. My family still makes an evening out of decorating our Christmas tree with a big dinner, cookies and hot cocoa. After perfectly placing all of the ornaments, I spend hours and hours wrapping presents with my mom.
Now that I have my own family with little kids, we are making our own traditions and memories. Every Christmas my kids get a new ornament to put on the tree, and a new pair of pajamas for Christmas Eve. We make sure to see Santa out and about in the community, and it's even better if we can track down a reindeer or two!
One thing I try very hard to teach my children is that the holidays are not just a time for receiving gifts, they're also a time to give back to our communities and to those who are not as fortunate as us. My favorite community tradition, the Polar Plunge, takes place in both Long Lake and Speculator. The plunges are more than just fun, they also give back to the heroes who have served our country. Funds raised during the events go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project's mission is to raise awareness and provide aid for injured members of our armed forces. The organization provides support for wounded warriors who are trying to overcome the challenges of readjustment, helps them receive proper health care and rehabilitation, and offers higher education opportunities and employment assistance services.
Every year at the public boat launch near the pavilion in Speculator, people gather on New Year's Day to take a dip in the icy water. Donations are collected, and as the noon siren sounds at the firehouse, everyone charges into the chilly water to take the plunge! This year will mark the fourth annual Polar Plunge.
A little farther north on January 2nd, Long Lake holds the annual Feelin' Long Lakey Polar Bear Plunge. This will be their fourth year holding the popular event. Resembling more of a parade atmosphere, costumes and team participation is encouraged (but not mandatory). With more than 50 participants typically taking turns in the plunge, it is certainly a fun event to watch! Long Lake, over the past four years, has raised more than $16,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. The goal for the next plunge is to push that number beyond $20,000!
Come on out and take the plunge! Start your year off with a refreshing swim and give a little bit back!
P.S.: Don't forget your towel!
This week in related ADK traditions: