The Big Freeze brings big crowds

The winter weather isn’t stopping dozens of people in our area from spending the day outside.

The Big Freeze is an annual event in southern Minnesota that celebrates the season.

Now in it’s fifth year, it’s drawing crowds in with everything from a chili cook off to an icy dip in Fountain Lake.

“You know this is Minnesota, this is our community and I think people really look forward to doing something like this in the winter time.”

It may be snowy, windy and freezing but it’s not stopping these folks from diving right into the winter fun.

People are lining up to jump in the frigid lake for the Blue Ice Plunge.

The Albert Lea Fire Department kicks it off, and challenged the rest of the community to take the plunge.

This year they even made a larger area for participants to jump in.

“Very cold, yeah. Very cold.”

Michael Johannsen and Tyler Larsen are first time jumpers.

“Just fun, it was for a good cause. I came last year and watched everybody do it, and then my 8 year old talked me into it,” they say.

In order to make the jump, these participants had to make a food donation that will go towards the Salvation Army and local food banks.

As far as doing it again, it may be too soon to ask.

“I’d think about it, probably in a little warmer weather. I wasn’t prepared as I should have been.”

“It’s fun look at it, look at everybody,” says Susie Petersen from the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Event organizers say the weather isn’t keeping people away this year.

“It’s packed in the pavilion; we have a big fire going. I mean you look out and you see kids swinging and it’s 20 degrees and they’re having a good time,” adds Peterson.

Having a good time, while giving back to their community.

“The whole reason for it, we fill the food shelves we fill the Salvation Army. That’s the whole part of this; it’s the reason why we do it,” she says.

This event has been growing every year.

Event organizers say when they first started the Big Freeze they had less than 75 people participate in the Blue Ice plunge, and last year they had 175 jumpers.

They say it’s becoming an event people don’t want to miss out on.

“Everything has grown and people have marked it on their calendars and they use it as a mid-winter break for one thing but they also use it as a great way to donate to the Salvation Army and other local food shelves,” says Randy Kehr, Executive Director of the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce.

The Big Freeze is put on each year by the Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce.

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