Participants in the Polar Bear Plunge at this weekend’s Skaneateles Winterfest will have an easier path to their frigid destination.
The walkway from the Clift Park gazebo to the Skaneateles Lake shore has been paved since last year’s plunge, said Candy Searing, administrative specialist with the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce. That means participants will no longer have to vault over a wall on their way to the plunge area near the community docks Saturday morning.
And for an event that already poses enough mental obstacles, the removal of a physical one helps.
“You just have to make a commitment to it and just go for it,” Searing said. “It’s quite the challenge to jump into cold water. You never get used to it.”
Searing said she’s the only woman to have participated in every Polar Bear Plunge since Winterfest began in 2009. She said about 100 people take the plunge every January. Many wear costumes, some in tandem. And all will see their $50 participation fee donated to the Skaneateles Ambulance Volunteer Emergency Service and the Skaneateles Education Foundation this year.
Aside from the new plunge path, Searing said, this year’s Winterfest will be similar to the 11 prior.
The event begins at 7 p.m. Friday in Clift Park with the ignition of an ice tower created by Stan Kolonko and The Ice Farm. About 20 ice sculptures will be scattered throughout the village that weekend, many inspired by their location, Searing said. The one near Doug’s Fish Fry typically includes a fish, for instance, and the one near cate&sally typically includes the logo of the women’s clothing boutique. And at 1 p.m. Saturday, Kolonko will perform an ice sculpture demonstration at Clift Park.
Saturday, Winterfest continues with Taste of Skaneateles from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. More than 20 sites will take part, providing food and beverage samples. Tickets are $15 for individuals, $25 for couples and $30 for families. Proceeds support the event’s organizer, the Skaneateles Sunrise Rotary Club, and its work in the community. (See below for a full list of participating sites.)
Registration for the Polar Bear Plunge begins at about 11 a.m. at Clift Park, Searing said, with the event taking place at 12:30 p.m.
Some sites will host their own Winterfest programming, too. Skaneateles United Methodist Church at 26 Jordan St. will host children’s activities from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., including a Baltimore Woods Nature Center program and a mascot from Rosamond Gifford Zoo. And Gallery 54 at 54 E. Genesee St. will host a fabric collage demonstration by artist Sharon Bottle Souva from noon to 3 p.m.
In a news release, the village gallery said that it’s not uncommon for viewers of Souva’s work to think they’re looking at a painting.
“Since I have been sewing most of my life, I know its nature and can push the materials,” she said in the release. “I’m always searching for ways to give fabric a voice through my creations.”
Rounding out the day’s events is a scavenger hunt. Participants can pick up a sheet of mystery phrases Saturday, and get letter clues at dozens of village merchants. Those who correctly solve the puzzle and hand in their completed sheets by the following Monday will be entered into a prize drawing.
The activity of the hunt, Taste of Skaneateles, the Polar Bear Plunge and other Winterfest happenings will bring summertime energy back to the lakeside village this weekend, Searing said.
“It’s very upbeat and exciting,” she said.
Taste of Skaneateles participants
• Anyela’s Vineyards (wine tastings) at cate & sally, 4 E. Genesee St.
• Blue Goose/Blue Water Grill (nachos), 11 W. Genesee St.
• The Cake Shop/Skaneateles Brewery (bites and beers) at Emma + James, 25 Jordan St.
• Doug’s Fish Fry (fresh shrimp cocktail and sauce), 8 Jordan St.
• Eat More Sweets (cinnamon monkey bread and cookies) at Skaneateles United Methodist Church, 26 Jordan St.
• Elephant and the Dove (chicken tortilla soup), 9 E. Genesee St.
• Evolve CBD (tea with CBD honey) at Hairtique, 20 E. Genesee St.
• Fleur-de-Lis Florist (cider and cookies), 26 E. Genesee St.
• Gilda’s (mushroom bisque), 12 W. Genesee St.
• Howard Hanna (scalloped potatoes), 28 E. Genesee St.
• Johnny Angel’s Heavenly Burgers (chili), 22 Jordan St.
• The Krebs (short rib chili), 53 W. Genesee St.
• Last Shot Distillery (drink tasting) at The White Sleigh, 24 E. Genesee St.
• Mid-Lakes Navigation (New England clam chowder), 11 Jordan St.
• Moro’s Kitchen (mini cannolis), 28 Jordan St. (back entrance)
• Patisserie (cookies) at Sherwood Inn, 26 W. Genesee St.
• Patisserie (patisserie bread and meatballs) at Berkshire Hathaway, 32 E. Genesee St.
• Red Rooster Pub (chef’s choice) at Skaneateles Artisans, 3 Fennell St.
• Rhubarb Dips & Sauces (gourmet sweet dips), 59 E. Genesee St.
• Savoir Fare Specialty Baking (macaroons) at Bijou Salon, 6 Jordan St.
• Sherwood Inn (chili), 26 W. Genesee St.
• Sinfully Sweet Café (sweet treats) at Imagine, 38 E. Genesee St.
• Skaneateles Bakery (fresh doughnuts), 19 Jordan St.
• United Methodist Church (hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee), 26 Jordan St.
• Valentine’s Delicatessen (gourmet pizza samples), 18 W. Genesee St.
• Vermont Green Mountain (sweet treat), 50 E. Genesee St.
• Village Bottle Shop (drink tasting), 18 W. Genesee St.