15th Freezin’ For A Reason Virginia Polar Dip – FINALE

Carol Nahorniak Around Town

Saturday, February 11

With “Cold Toes and Warm Hearts” 
Local Event Benefits the National Charity: Camp Sunshine

The wintertime tradition when crowds of spectators and jumpers dressed in crazy costumes converge on Lake Anne Plaza is set for Saturday, February 11, 2023. All are invited to join in the fun of the finale of the 15th Freezin’ for a Reason Virginia Polar Dip beginning at 12:00 p.m. with music by Quickspin’s Quick Planning and family friendly activities. Registered participants will take a chilly full plunge or a “Chicken Dip” (just their toes) to raise funds for Camp Sunshine. Online registration for the Virginia Polar Dip is now open at freezinforareason.com. On February 11, sign-in and on-site registration starts at noon and the Polar Dip begins at 2:00 p.m.

The Virginia Polar Dip is a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, a national year-round retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. This year’s goal, for the final Virginia Polar Dip, is to bring in $100,000 for the charity, to reach the mark of $1M raised since it began in 2008. Through pledges or self-sponsorship, each participant will raise/donate a minimum of $100 for the opportunity to plunge into the frigid waters and will receive a commemorative “I DID IT” event shirt. The funds will help send families from the Mid-Atlantic area (including VA/MD/DC/DE/PA/WV/NC) to attend Camp Sunshine. Businesses and individuals can also add support with online donations on the Virginia Polar Dip web page.

“The Virginia Polar Dip has a unique aspect that adds to the fun,” states Gail Toth, event founder and organizer. “We have a one-hour succession of splashes that brings plenty of cheers and laughter from the crowd of spectators.” And, she adds: “If this is an event you’ve always wanted to do, this year is your last chance for taking part in the Virginia Polar Dip!”

The usual concept of other polar dips and plunges is for participants to run into the water all at once, but the Virginia Polar Dip-pers are introduced, 1 to 5 at a time, to jump off the dock into the frigid water of Lake Anne. Adding to the anticipation are weather conditions, which have varied over the years of 15 Virginia Polar Dips. The lake could be frozen so hard that the ice must be sawed before the dip begins, or the air temperature could be a balmy 60 degrees. Details about how the event works are provided in the registration section and in the FAQs on the Virginia Polar Dip web page.

The Virginia Polar Dip was started by the Toth family of Northern Virginia after their long history with Camp Sunshine. They first attended Camp Sunshine as a participating family in 1996 when their daughter Jennifer was a cancer patient at age 3, and they have returned as volunteers every year since. After Jennifer participated in a Camp Sunshine Polar Dip in New Jersey, her family decided to bring the event to Virginia in order to help more local families. Since the 2008 inception of the Virginia Polar Dip, 2,199 people have participated, raising almost $905,000 for the camp. Camp Sunshine is nestled alongside the shores of beautiful Sebago Lake in Maine and provides respite, support, joy, and hope to children with life-threatening illnesses and their immediate families through various stages of a child’s illness.

The 2023 Virginia Polar Dip is made possible thanks to the sponsors who provide funding and in-kind support, such as: Ourisman Chantilly Toyota, Built-In Besties, David Madison Photography, Carol Nahorniak, Salon Khouri, Kalypso’s Sports Tavern, Lake Anne Village Center, Fairfax County Cold Water Dive Team, Manor Works Painting, Synergy Design & Construction, The Shelley Family, William Barbour Jr. State Farm Insurance Agency, Kiwanis-Tysons VA, Reston Association, Reston Community Center, Loebig Wellness and Chiropractic, Quickspin’s Quick Planning, and Herndon-Reston Jazzercise. 

For more information about the event or to register to participate, visit www.freezinforareason.com or become a Facebook Fan (Virginia Polar Dip) and view pictures from previous Dips. 


What: 15th Freezin’ for a Reason Virginia Polar Dip

When: Saturday, February 11, 2023

Where: Lake Anne Plaza (Waterfront) – 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, VA 20190

Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Registration, Music, Activities, Post-Dip Celebration). Actual Polar Dip Begins at 2:00 PM

Websites: www.freezinforareason.com, www.campsunshine.org, www.lakeanneplaza.com.  

Cost: $100 minimum donation to plunge and is open to anyone willing to brave the elements for a good cause. Free to spectators. Rain or Shine (will be rescheduled if major snowstorm is forecast).

Social Media: @LakeAnnePlaza @GoCampSunshine @VirginiaPolarDip

Virginia Polar Dip – FAQs

Q:  Where is the Virginia Polar Dip held?

A:  The Virginia Polar Dip is held at Lake Anne Village Center, located at 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, VA  20190

Q:  Where should I park?

A:  There is a parking lot at Lake Anne Village Center.  If the lot fills up, overflow parking is along North Shore Drive, or across Baron Cameron Avenue at Brown’s Chapel Park (use caution crossing Baron Cameron Ave.).

Q:  Where do I go when I arrive?

A:  After parking, walk towards the lake.  Proceed to the Reston Community Center to the registration area.

Q:  What time does the event start?

A:  Registration will start at 12:00.  The Polar Dip will start at 2:00 PM. 

Q:  When should I arrive?

A:  Plan to arrive early to get through the registration lines before the event starts, the earlier the better to avoid long lines.  Come early and have lunch at one of the many restaurants at Lake Anne.

Q:  Do I have to register online?

A:  Registering on-line helps us to know how many people to expect for planning purposes, and ordering shirts.  It is also easier to fundraise using the website as friends/family can sponsor you from anywhere.  There will be three waivers to sign at the event, one for Camp Sunshine and two for Reston Association (RA).  Per our insurance policy, the waivers must be signed in person at the event. A parent or legal guardian must sign for anyone under the age of 18. There is also a Virtual option again this year that also requires signing up online and signing the Camp Sunshine waiver (see the Virginia Polar Dip web page for more information).

Q:  Can I register at the event?

A:  Yes, you can register at the event. There will be three waivers to sign, one for Camp Sunshine and two for Reston Association (RA). Per our insurance policy, the waivers must be signed in person at the event. A parent or legal guardian must sign for anyone under the age of 18.

Q:  How do I turn in any donations I received (cash/checks)?

A:  Bring any donations you receive with you to registration. All checks should be made payable to Camp Sunshine and are 100% tax deductible. Being able to tell the folks at registration if your checks/cash are included in your on-line fundraising or not will be helpful to us for tallying the totals of the day.

Q:  How much does it cost to participate?

A:  Participants are asked to raise/donate a minimum of $100. You will receive a souvenir long-sleeve shirt that says “I Did It”.  

Q:  Can I pay by credit card?

A:  Yes, credit cards will be accepted.

Q:  When does the event end?

A:  The length of the event depends on the number of participants. Based on previous years, we expect the event to end between 3:00-3:30 PM.

Q:  What should I wear to participate?

A:  You can wear anything you would like except wet suits. Remember we are a family-friendly event.  Crazy costumes are popular, but many people jump in bathing suits, or shorts and t-shirts. Tip: heavy wet fabrics are more challenging to climb up the ladders with.

Q:  Should I wear some kind of shoe?

A:  Yes, we recommend wearing some kind of water shoe as we cannot guarantee what may be at the bottom of the lake. Flip flops or heels do not work well and should be avoided.

Q:  What else should I bring with me?

A:  A towel to dry off, and warm clothes to change in to.

Q:  Is there a place to change before/after the event?

A: There are public restrooms located in the Community Center (where registration takes place).

Q:  What is the order of jumping?

A:  The event will start with the Chicken Dippers. Anyone that cannot do a full jump for whatever reason can do this option. All the Chicken Dippers will go down to the dock area as a group, sit on the dock and stick their feet in the water. When they are done we will start the full jumps. There will be a line of participants on a first come basis. You can decide to jump towards the beginning or towards the end. If for some reason you have a time constraint and need to jump at the beginning, let us know, and we will accommodate your schedule so that you can participate.

Q:  How many people can jump at a time?

A:  For safety reasons, we can only have 4-5 people maximum jump at a time.

Q:  Do I have to be part of a team, or can I jump by myself?

A:  You do not need to have a team. You can jump by yourself if that is your preference, or we can pair you up with someone else also jumping alone to keep things moving along.

Q:  Where will we be jumping from?

A:  You will be jumping from a floating dock.

Q:  How do we get out of the water?

A:  There will be 3 ladders right there to climb out.

Q:  How deep is the lake?

A:  The water where you will be jumping is about 6-7 feet deep.

Q:  Is diving allowed?

A:  No, there is absolutely NO DIVING for obvious safety reasons. Also please refrain from doing back flips off the dock for safety reasons.

Q:  How cold will the water be?

A:  In the previous years the water has ranged from 32 to 42 degrees. It’s all cold! The air temperature makes all the difference when you get out.

Q:  What if I can’t swim?

A:  You can still participate if you want to. There will be 3 Fairfax County Cold Water Dive Team members in the water to assist anyone that needs it. They will also have a life ring with them. Just alert them ahead of time that you need their assistance, and they will be happy to help you get to the ladders. Or there is also the Chicken Dip option at the beginning of the event.

Q:  Will there be emergency personnel there if needed?

A:  There will be ~5-6 Fairfax County Cold Water Dive Team personnel at the event. At least one will be on the dock, and the rest will be in the water. There will also be police and fire personnel on site. (Note:  In all our previous years we have never had a need for them.)

Q:  Will the event still go on if the lake is frozen?

A:  Absolutely! That just makes it more fun! If the lake is frozen over, the Cold Water Dive Team will either break the ice up right before the event begins, or if the ice is on the thicker side, they will likely break the ice up the day before. 

Q:  Will the event be cancelled due to weather?

A:  Light rain or snow will not cancel the event. In the event of severe weather, we could make the decision to cancel/postpone the event for everyone’s safety. If the weather is in question the morning of the event, please check our Facebook page (Virginia Polar Dip) for any cancellation announcements.

Q:  Are spectators welcome?

A:  Absolutely! The more, the better! The Plaza area will be filled with spectators, so come early to get a good viewing spot and cheer on our jumpers as they brave the freezing water!

Q:  Will there be a photographer on site?

A:  Yes, we have an official event photographer, David Madison Photography, who will get shots of each group as they jump. David Madison will then post all his pictures on a website for viewing and downloading free of charge. The link will be posted on our Facebook page as soon as it is ready, within a couple days after the event. David Madison will have the best seat in the house for getting those shots.

Q:  Is there any place to eat at Lake Anne?

A:  There are many wonderful restaurants at Lake Anne to choose from. Plan to come early or stay late to grab a bite and warm up.

Q:  Anything else I should know?

A:  You will have a blast, and know that while you are doing so you will be helping some very special children and their families.

NOTICE: The Reston Association does not maintain the water quality of Lake Anne to swimming standards.

IMPORTANT: Contrary to what some believe, alcohol does not make the water less cold. For your safety, please refrain from heavy drinking before the event. Save it for after you jump to celebrate your success!

Pictured at top
Photo: The Toth family – Bill, Gail, Julianna, Jennifer