The Deer Lake Winterfest committee has added a new event to the nine-day festival that it hopes will not only make a big splash, but also have a positive impact on the community.
During the opening ceremonies on Feb. 2 a huge ice tub filled with water will be set up on the Power House Field for the festival’s first polar dunk in aid of a new fund that will be set up for people, including first responders, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Committee chair Junior Pinksen said the polar dunk is something that has been explored over the past three years as the committee looks to add unique events.
This year, he said, it was decided to make it a reality.
The use of the tub — that participants will jump into, as opposed to getting dunked by the tossing of a ball — came up as the committee looked at liability and risk management.
Pinksen said jumping into the lake didn’t seem like the best idea.
Four members of council, including Mayor Dean Ball, Deputy Mayor Mike Goosney and councillors Dave Parsons and Gordon Hancock, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Staff Sergeant Maria Russell, from the Deer Lake Detachment, have agreed to take the plunge.
But residents will have to do their part to make sure they all go in by donating money to the cause.
The committee has set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations and is also accepting donations from businesses.
Individuals who want to jump in the water, too, can get in on the action by collecting pledges.
With $525 already collected, Parsons will be going in and if $750 is raised then Hancock will join him. At $1,000 Goosney will get to join in the fun and Russell will jump in if the donation thermometer rises to $1,250. If the committee gets to its overall goal of $1,500, Ball will get dunked.
Pinksen said from the start the committee wanted to do the dunk as a fundraiser.
“Right now there’s a lot of awareness out there with mental illness,” said Pinksen.
PTSD, he said, is a familiar acronym, and the committee and the town wanted to do something in support of it.
And the thought was to keep it local by establishing the fund that can be accessed by people in the community, including first responders, who are suffering from PTSD.
“We wanted to stay in the local area because we appreciate the value that these first responders do for us each and every day.”