Tamaqua YMCA members, employees and board members, represented themselves as the Tamaqua YMCA team while participating in the 5th annual YMCA St Patty's Marsh Madness Ice Plunge for Kids event held Saturday at Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County.
Spectators and icy-water jumpers for the Tamaqua YMCA team traveled via the Tamaqua YMCA bus to participate in the annual ice plunge event, More than 300 people, representing area YMCA branches, participated in the chilly event. Pledge funds raised prior to the event go to each YMCA's youth programs.
The event encourages each competing YMCA branch to compete with other teams in various categories. The Tamaqua YMCA theme was "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", complete with chocolate bars, bubbles, Willy Wonka and singing Umpa-Lumpas.
Despite cold weather and a 45 degree water temperature, a number of daring Tamaqua YMCA volunteers still made the jump into the ice cold water. Participants followed bagpipers to the lake's edge before the plunge. One team's theme was Baywatch, which involved lifeguards and a real helicopter that flew overhead pretending the be part of the rescue.
Tamaqua YMCA board member and plunger Andrew Leibenguth was rewarded first prize for being character "Willy Wonka", taking first place for best male costume three years straight. In prior years, he represented the Tamaqua YMCA as a dirty coal miner and a blue-painted Avatar. Leibenguth stripped off his "Willy Wonka" costume to plunge in the icy water only wearing his green Gumby boxers. The Tamaqua YMCA branch also earned the award for best in theme.
Leibenguth gave all the credit for winning this year to his friend, Eric Becker, as well as Dwayne and Dale Freudenberger, who helped provide and come up with ideas for his winning costume.
Tamaqua YMCA executive director Nick Zigmant stated his appreciation to all the Tamaqua participants who made the event a fun one.
Food was also provided afterwards to all the participants. Anyone wanting to participate in next year's plunge is encouraged to call stop by the Tamaqua YMCA.