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Deep Freeze Dip returns to raise money for Honor Flight

File Photo Current Prairie Elementary principal Josh Noble performs a cannonball jump during the first-ever Deep Freeze Dip in this Jan. 23, 2010, photo.

WORTHINGTON -- The morning crew at US 104 is once again seeking people to take a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Okabena to help support local World War II heroes embarking on Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota.

Worthington's second annual Winterfest celebration is more than a week away, and the station is working hard to recruit jumpers ages 18 and older willing to take the Deep Freeze Dip. Pledge cards are available through Friday at the US 104 office at the corner of Third Avenue and 11th Street in downtown Worthington, as well as from John Standafer at the Edward Jones Investment office, 1016 Oxford St. Cards must be returned by Jan. 13, and jumpers are encouraged to raise a minimum of $250.

Cole Bartels, a local 13-year-old who helped raise $2,000 for last year's event, has once again volunteered to take pledges even though he is too young to take the dip. He will be at Hy-Vee from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday taking pledges and distributing veteran and guardian applications to those interested in taking part in the third Honor Flight from southwest Minnesota.

All pledges raised for the Deep Freeze Dip will go to Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota to help cover the costs of sending area World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., this spring to view their memorial. US 104 general manager Chad Cummings said he'd like to match last year's fundraising total of $45,000.

"These veterans spent years in the midst of warfare. The fact that we're going to have people jump in a frozen lake and get cold for 30 seconds is a pretty small sacrifice to honor these veterans," Cummings said.

The Deep Freeze Dip will begin at 3 p.m. Jan. 15 straight out from the shoreline of Chautauqua Park. The new location will provide more room for viewing, as spectators will not be allowed to stand on the ice this year.

Cummings said a 10- by 10-foot hole will be cut in the ice for the dip, in an area where the water depth is five feet or less.

"If you don't swim, don't worry -- you can jump in with floatation devices," he said, adding that safety personnel will be on the scene to assist dippers if needed.

"We have a few repeat jumpers (signed up), but we do have new ones who watched or were spouses of those who did it last year," Cummings said.

The Rock-Nobles Cattlemen will once again serve grilled burgers on-site during the Deep Freeze Dip and, new this year, the local Boy and Cub Scout groups will serve hot beverages.

Shuttle service has also been added this year, with spectators encouraged to park in the Westminster Presbyterian Church parking lot. Hagen Distributing is sponsoring the shuttle service, provided by Reading Bus Lines.

In addition to the Deep Freeze Dip, several other activities have been planned. The day begins with a fishing tournament hosted by the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with fishing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a designated area on Lake Okabena. There is a registration fee, which will be collected near the boat landing just west of Centennial Park.

Those participating in the tournament may register as many fish -- of any species -- as they catch, but only the biggest will be measured for prizes. Cummings said thousands of dollars in prizes will be awarded.

The fishing club will have augers available for those who want to participate and need holes drilled.

The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce sports and recreation committee continues to work on details for a five-hole golf tournament on the lake on Jan. 15, according to Chamber director Darlene Macklin. If plans come together, the event will be open to individuals ages 18 and older. More details will be available within the next week.

The Chamber is also spearheading the second annual Snow Queen contest, which is open to local girls ages 15 to 17. The application deadline has been extended to Friday. Anyone interested is asked to pick up an application at the Chamber office, 1121 Third Ave. The application contains just three questions -- why she likes winter, what her favorite outdoor activity is and why, and how she would represent Worthington as an ambassador.

The crowning of the Snow Queen will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 15, in Chautauqua Park.

Jane Lanphere, Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota executive board member, said all of the details for the third Honor Flight have yet to be finalized. At this time, 80 veterans are on the list to take the two-day trip, which is planned for either late April or early May.

Any veteran who would like to participate in Honor Flight is encouraged to complete an application. Applications are available at Chamber of Commerce offices in Worthington and Luverne, as well as online at

Click here to read more about the Honor Flight.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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