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Family’s 11-year New Year tradition is cold, wet, fun

Journal photo by John McVey From left are Allen “Buck” Artz Sr., Kenny Collinson, Allen Artz Jr. and Harry O. Meyers after emerging from the Potomac River during the Polar Bear Plunge at Williamsport, Md., on Wednesday. This was Allen Sr.’s 11th plunge and Allen Jr.’s first.
Journal photo by John McVey
From left are Allen “Buck” Artz Sr., Kenny Collinson, Allen Artz Jr. and Harry O. Meyers after emerging from the Potomac River during the Polar Bear Plunge at Williamsport, Md., on Wednesday. This was Allen Sr.’s 11th plunge and Allen Jr.’s first.

By John McVey

The Journal

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. – Wednesday’s Polar Bear Plunge at River Bottom Park in Williamsport, Md., was Allen Artz Jr.’s first dip in the cold waters of the Potomac River on New Year’s Day, but for his father, Allen “Buck” Artz Sr., it was his 11th.

“It starts the year off right,” the elder Allen Artz said after emerging from the Potomac dripping and smiling. “It was cold. It’s always cold.”

About 250 plungers took part in the 11th Polar Bear Plunge, raising money for the Washington County Boys and Girls Club in Williamsport and Williamsport’s emergency medical services.

Several times that many spectators also turned out for the festivities, including Artz’s sister, Connie Young.

“Allen’s been doing it since the first one in 2002, when there were only five people,” she said from her warm and dry post on the river bank.

Also part of the tradition is Allen Sr.’s outrageous costumes. This year he was dressed as Supergirl and carried an American flag.

Allen Jr. came as a voluptuous hula dancer.

“It was completely cold and completely wet,” he said, with a beaming smile…

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