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PHOTO GALLERY: Participants brave the cold at the fifth annual Polar Bear Plunge

Saturday, February 18, 2012 | 6:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — About 430 people, many in costumes, participated in this year's Polar Bear Plunge at Stephens Lake Park.  Individuals plunged into the 39-degree Fahrenheit water during the event, which supports Special Olympics Missouri.

From left, Julie Whitesides, Tory Sights, Tina Bowen, Colin Smialek and Justin Caldwell run into the water during the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. The group makes up the team Preston Superheroes, who plunge in memory of Preston Sights who died in June 2011.
From left, Jared Knupp, Pat Scott, Alan Brant, Creighton Hayes and Kyle Fitzpatrick await the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. The group is part of the Alpha Tau Omega team.
Glenn Dietzel stands in the line of people getting ready in the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. Dietzel plunged with the Columbia 20/20 Lions Club. He wanted to dress like a lion, but with his tiger hat became a "lion tiger".
Participants in the fifth annual Polar Bear Plunge sprint into the cold waters on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park.
Spectators gather before the fifth annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. This year, the event raised $70,000.
From left, Matt Fox, Jason Crafton, Bob Burgio and Jake Hendrix prepare for the parade of costumes that precedes the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. The group works at the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab in Jefferson City and make up the team CSI: Treasure Trolls.
Zac Crane of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association runs out of the water during the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. According to the Columbia Fire Department, the water during the event was 39 degrees.

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