The disappointment was so thick, you could cut it with an ... ice pick.
An ice saw? A backhoe?
Turns out, with none of those. Cooler (?) heads prevailed Thursday. Sanity reared up in the middle of an event it usually avoids, and cancelled Racine's annual Splash and Dash, what would have been our 19th plunge into the waters of Lake Michigan on New Year's Day to raise money for local charities.
To say the hundreds of polar bear wannabees were disappointed would be an understatement. Many stripped down to their bathing suits anyway ... at least until their extremities started turning blue along the windy beach. Sam Wright of Racine -- he of the lovely red Hawaiian print at top -- was especially disappointed: his daughter and son-in-law were up from Florida to take their place alongside him in the surf. Another year, perhaps.
The temperature was a balmy 26 degrees -- up from last year's 21 degrees. But the mound of ice along the shore at North Beach was solid rock, and there were ice caves -- beautiful to look at but dangerous to walk around -- right offshore.
Although a backhoe had been provided to cut a path into the surging water, organizer J.C. Conyn of the Racine Fire Department made the sensible call, fearing what the chunks of ice might do to the splash and dashers. Still, volunteers collected donations of cash and foodstuffs, and at the end, as they trudged back to their cars, the erstwhile swimmers turned in their wristbands for this year's bright green Splash and Dash t-shirt.