By Mark Weyermuller -
On Sunday, several thousand people went to North Avenue Beach in Chicago to jump in frigid Lake Michigan water to raise money for Special Olympics. It was the 17th annual running of this event that in years past have included such notables as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughn, and even Lady Gaga.
The first in the water this year was actor, comedian, writer, and director Dax Sheppard. He was promoting his new movie CHiPS, a remake of a 80's television show. Shepard dove in the 42 degree water in his full costume as a member of the California Highway Patrol. He was joined by Jack O'Callahan from the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team (Miracle on Ice) and Kevin Magnuson, son of Blackhawks legend Keith Magnuson. Kevin is now president of Chicago Special Olympics.
Next in the water were the casts of the NBC shows filmed here, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Justice with their lead star John Seda leading the plunge. They were joined by Illinois gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy. Kennedy ran and dove head first in the water, perhaps a metaphor for diving in what expects to be a highly-contested race. Not seen on the beach were other possible Democrat nominees and no sight of current governor Bruce Rauner. Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn't appear, either.
There was a handful of Chicago aldermen jumping in the water, along former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher cooking brats nearby. Other big groups included over 400 employees from Commonwealth Edison, People's Gas, and Home Depot. The whole Loyola High School Football team took the plunge, along with Marist and Mother McCauley High School students.
Many entered the water in costumes - everything from Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, The Man in the Yellow Hat with Curious George, many clowns, and even a unusual looking Hillary Clinton. No sign of President Donald Trump today or any surrogates or lookalikes.
The Polar Plunge was a huge success raising over one million dollars.
Special Olympics is the world's largest program for sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Learn more about Special Olympics at http://sochicago.org/