Albert Lea’s Big Freeze moves across townPublished 12:28pm Friday, February 17, 2012
ALBERT LEA — The Big Freeze has a new location this year, but its goals remain the same: Bring some fun to Albert Lea in the middle of winter while filling local food shelves.
The Big Freeze, a winter festival now in its third year, will happen Saturday at Edgewater Park instead of Frank Hall Park, with the new Edgewater Bay Pavilion as its main gathering place, because, as organizers say, a 3,300-square-foot indoor facility with a solid floor sure beats a big tent on cold ground.
The pavilion was completed last spring as the finishing touch of a cleanup of the northwest part of the park that took place the year before.
Bad Monkey is once again a big draw for the Big Freeze. The local band known for its rock covers plays live from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday.
The Big Freeze organizing committee, led by Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Susie Petersen, also added two new bands. Local bands Riptide and Indiscrepancy will perform from 5 to 7 p.m., perhaps as soon as 4 p.m. Saturday.
Organizers are asking people coming to see the live music to pay $3 and bring a nonperishable food item. Geneva Bar & Grill will sell refreshments.
Winter activities remain a major part of the Big Freeze, making it an all-day festival.
The biggest event is the Polar Plunge, run by Albert Lea and Albert Lea Township firefighters. But why do people jump into water at or near freezing?
“They say it is such a shock to the system that it is extraordinarily refreshing,” said Capt. Scott Hanna of the Albert Lea Fire Department. “I don’t jump in the water, but I thoroughly enjoy watching the people who do.”
To jump in the ice-cold water of Fountain Lake’s Edgewater Bay, jumpers must bring a nonperishable food item or a cash donation. The food goes to food shelves and cash donations go to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Jumping starts at 2 p.m. and goes until the last jumper.
Take a Kid Ice Fishing grows every year, Petersen said. This event had about 50 the first year and had 91 last year.
The first 150 children will receive a free jigging stick and a bucket. It takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on the ice of Edgewater Bay.
A winter carnival for children happens from 1 to 4 p.m. The carnival features snow golf, an obstacle course, Giant Jenga and other games.
The Big Freeze Ice Bowl, a disc golf tournament run by the Flying Lea Disc Golf Club, will take place on the back-nine of the former Albert Lea Country Club golf course. The 18-hole temporary course will be open and available to the public to play free of charge, even during the tournament. To be part of the tournament, however, participants must bring five nonperishable food items.
Registration for the disc golf tournament takes place from 9 to 9:30 a.m. The tee time is 10 a.m. (not 1 p.m.).
Registration for geocaching — basically a form of hide and seek using high-tech gear — takes place from 1 to 2 p.m. Participants will canvass the area to find caches hidden by the organizers.
The Albert Lea Jaycees are holding a chili cookoff from noon to 3 p.m. To enter chili, the cost is $10. To taste chili and vote, the cost is $3 plus a nonperishable food item.
In 2010, the Big Freeze raised 263 pounds of food for food shelves. In 2011, it had 1,192 pounds. Petersen said organizers hope to outperform that mark this time.
“We just want to hold a fun community event in the winter, to take away these winter blahs,” she said.
Events Saturday at Edgewater Park, near Edgewater Bay Pavilion
• 9 a.m.-noon: Take a Kid Ice Fishing
First 150 kids get free jigging stick and bucket
• 10 a.m.: tee off, Big Freeze Ice Bowl disc golf tournament
Registration is 9-9:30 a.m. at pavilion; must bring 5 nonperishable food items to register; $250 in prizes
• Noon-3 p.m.: Chili Cookoff
Inside pavilion; $10 to enter, $3 and nonperishable food item to judge; more than $100 in prizes
• 1-2 p.m.: Family geocaching event (Sign up inside the pavilion)
• 1-4 p.m.: Kids Winter Carnival
Gather inside pavilion
• 1-4 p.m.: Wagon rides
Bring nonperishable food item; rides start at pavilion and go on the park road
• 2 p.m.: Polar Plunge begins
Happens at Edgewater Bay shoreline; bring nonperishable food item or cash
• 5-7 p.m. (possibly sooner): Riptide, then Indiscrepancy perform
• 7-11 p.m.: Bad Monkey performs