On February 12th, Samuel’s House Women’s Shelter, a local organization dedicated to service towards women and children in Key West, is hosting its annual Southernmost Conch Republic Polar Plunge for another year. This fundraiser helps raise money for the organization to provide more services to needy women and children, such as more housing locations. The event will be in front of Salute! on Higgs Beach at 1100 Atlantic Avenue.
Participants sign in under the beach’s pavilion to get checked in for the event. Once checked in, all members must wait till noon to rush into the “freezing” (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit) ocean water. Seeing the rush of the people and a man in a polar bear suit into the sea gives an exhilarating feeling to locals and tourists. It’s a great way to have social fun and support a great cause.
Marsha Conley, the creator of the Southernmost Conch Republic Polar Plunge, formed this event over ten years ago when she heard that the Florida Keys had no polar plunges during the winter. In addition, Conley wanted to do this event with a purpose behind it: supporting Samuel’s House. The executive director of Samuel’s House, Tara Salinas, has helped Conley carry on this tradition by hosting it every year. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic era, they hosted it virtually, seeing the same amount of support as they would have in person.
Salinas is out of town for various reasons, so this year Maria Protopsaltis, the deputy director of Samuel’s House, will be in charge of ensuring the event runs smoothly. She has helped manage the organization’s marketing, customer service, website, and more, as well as put her heart and soul into making Samuel’s House special. In the past, Protopsaltis said that the Polar Plunge was her favorite event with Samuel’s House, so she couldn’t be happier to take charge of it this year.
To participate, each participant must pay $30 online or at the event to secure their spot. Each member will receive a t-shirt to go along with their plunge. To some, $30 seems a little pricey for just a plunge in the ocean because anyone can do that for free. However, as said before, this plunge means something different than just a dip. It is helping the cause to provide for women and children in need.
If you want to learn more about the event, go to www.samuelhouse.org or call (305)296-0240.