CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people, and a few celebrities, gathered Sunday to plunge into Lake Michigan or simply observe the Special Olympics Chicago’s 17th annual Polar Plunge.
North Avenue Beach was filled with participants and spectators all supporting a good cause that benefits Special Olympics Chicago and the programs it delivers to 6,800 athletes throughout the year.
The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony, featuring the event’s V.I.P (Very Important Plunger), actor Dax Shepard.
Shepard is best known from the film “Hit and Run” and TV’s “Parenthood.”
“It was just too darn warm in California and I had a cold for two weeks that I am hoping this is going to shake for me,” Shepard joked. “This is such an awesome cause. I was told you guys raised a million and a half dollars already for Special Olympics, which is so great, let’s have a round of applause.
“I want to thank the bagpipe players that are here to play, should I pass in the water,” Shepard continued. “They are going to play very lovely to honor me and I thank them for that. And this is a terrible idea! I thank you so much for inviting me.”
Promoting the upcoming action comedy “CHiPS,” in which he stars in, Shepard wore his cop uniform from the film to take the plunge. He began the first wave of plungers a little after 10 a.m.
Following Shepard in the next wave of plungers were stars from members from the casts of “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD”, “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Justice.”
Among that wave was “Chicago Justice” star, Jon Seda who plays Antonio Dawson; “Chicago Fire” star, David Eigenberg who plays Christopher Herrmann; and “Chicago Fire” star, Kara Killmer who plays Sylvie Brett.
But celebrities were not the only ones who plunged — thousands came out to plunge and support the cause. Some arrived in groups decked out in costumes, hats, tutus and more.
One group came dressed as blue sharks, ready to take on Sunday’s waves in the brisk morning.
Another group came dressed as Vikings ready to battle the cold waters.
And matching the event’s Polar Bear mascot, a group wore polar bear hats – at least their ears and heads were staying warm!
Speaking of hats, another group came in propeller hats.
But these were just some of the many bold outfits and costumes that participants donned.
After taking the plunge, participants had the opportunity to grab a bratwurst grill by Chicago Bears legend, Brian Urlacher.