Event Timeline

Welcome to the 16th Annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York! Below you will find the timeline of events for the Polar Plunge. Please be aware that below is a tentative timeline. Make sure you are check your email for information from Kelley Ligozio at kligozio@nyso.org. We will keep this site as up to date as possible.

  • 10:00AM: Registration, Merchandise and Costuming Judging Contest Opens
  • 11:15AM: Canandaigua Polar Plunge program begins at the Polar Plunge Main Stage
  • 11:55AM: National Anthem
  • 11:56AM: Participants line up to take the Polar Plunge
  • 12Noon: Plunge!


Q: What is the minimum amount that I need to raise to participate?

  • A: Each Polar Plunger is required to raise a minimum of $100 to participate. By raising $100, you will receive an official long sleeve Polar Plunge performance t-shirt the day of the plunge. Raise more money and receive more great prizes! Raise $500 by October 6th and YOUR name will go on the back of over 600 Polar Plunge long sleeve performance t-shirts! Incentive prizes will be sent out after the plunge.

Q: Where/how do I turn in my money on the day of the Polar Plunge?

  • A: Any money you have in-hand should be turned in at the Registration area the day of the Canandaigua Polar Plunge. This includes cash, checks, and money orders. Credit card donations are also accepted at Registration.

Q: What prizes are available to participants who raise more than the minimum?

  • A: Anyone that raises $250 or more will qualify for additional incentives. These incentives will be sent out AFTER the Canandaigua Polar Plunge. Check out our Incentives tab to see what other fun swag you could win.

Q: How far do I have to go into the water?

  • A: As far as you want! There are no "plunge police" making sure that you go in. Some choose to go all the way under, while others go ankle-deep and then head back home. Everyone is a Polar Plunger in our book! We do have photographers in the water so try to make it out to them to get the BEST plunge picture you can!

Q: How old do you have to be to Plunge?

  • A: While we do not have an age restriction, participants under the age of 18 must have written consent from a parent or legal guardian. We defer to the parents on what makes the most sense for their family. Remember, Polar Plunging can mean dipping a hand or a big toe!

Q: Is there someplace where I can change before and/or after the Plunge?

  • A: Unfortunately due to COVID, the bathrooms at Kershaw Park will be closed this year. There will be porta potties on site.

Q: What should I wear to the Canandaigua Plunge?

  • A: Pretty much whatever you want, within the following guidelines: You must wear shoes of some sort. We recommend old sneakers, crocs, or water shoes. Flip flops fall off easily. Lewd or indecent bathing suits or outfits are not permitted. Please remember that this is a family event. Participants who disregard this policy will be asked to cover up, or will be escorted from the park. There is a costume contest! Prizes for the best individual and best team costume will be given out so we strongly encourage costumes!

Q: I am a first-time Plunger. Can you tell me what I should expect when I arrive?

  • A: The most fun you'll ever have at the beach in the winter! This year may look different from past years due to the pandemic guidelines, however there will still be DJ playing great music and the energy from the Polar Plungers will be epic!

Q: Do you have any other tips for plungers?

  • A: Bring a plastic bag for your wet clothes. Don't wear any jewelry that you are afraid to lose. If you want to take your cell phone with you, put it in a plastic bag so that is doesn’t get wet.


Q: Who should checks be made out to?

  • A: Checks should be made out to Special Olympics New York. Please include in the memo area of the check the Plunger's name that will receive the credit.

Q: I am trying to make an online donation but it doesn't seem to be going through. What can I do?

  • A: We can help! Call or email Kelley Ligozio at 585-358-0603 or kligozio@nyso.org.

Q: I have received additional donations for the Polar Plunge but the event is over. What should I do with them?

  • A: Donations to the Canandaigua Polar Plunge are accepted at any time of the year, and mailed or delivered to: Special Olympics New York, Attn: Canandaigua Polar Plunge, 1 Grove Street, Suite 216, Pittsford, NY 14534. Please be sure a note when sending in your donation that includes the name of the individual or team that the donations should be credited to.

Q: I have registered online but I also have cash and checks that people have given me, what can I do with these?

  • A: All donations can be handed in the day of the Polar Plunge at Registration, these additional funds will be added to your fundraising total. You can also mail or deliver your donations to our office at Special Olympics New York, Attn: Canandaigua Polar Plunge, 1 Grove Street, Suite 216, Pittsford, NY 14534. Please contact Kelley Ligozio at 585-358-0603 or kligozio@nyso.org to coordinate a time if you plan to drop off your collected donations.

Q: Does Special Olympics New York issue refunds?

  • A: Charitable contributions are non-refundable, and the minimum Polar Plunge registration fee is considered a charitable contribution and is therefore also non-refundable.

Q: I have received some cash donations and I want to update the fundraising total on my webpage to include these. How can I do this?

  • A: You can enter donations received cash, checks, money orders- into your Participant Center and they will be confirmed by the staff at Special Olympics New York when the donations are received. All donations cash, check, money order received via mail or in person are entered by the administrative support staff for the Canandaigua Polar Plunge. Contributions in this form should be mailed to Special Olympics New York, Attn: Canandaigua Polar Plunge, 1 Grove Street, Suite 216, Pittsford, NY 14534 for processing. Please allow at least 5-7 days from receipt of the donations for totals to reflect online.

Q: How long does it take for checks that are mailed in on my behalf to show up in my fundraising total?

  • A: Generally speaking, contributions will be entered no more than 5-7 days after they are received by Special Olympics New York. When checking on a donation that has been mailed, please remember to allow 2-3 days for handling by the USPS. During the week of the Polar Plunge, processing time WILL increase due to the volume of mail received. In this case, contributions may or may not appear on your webpage prior to the event.

Q: My company offers matching gifts. If I get my personal contribution to the Plunge matched, does that count towards my fundraising total and how do I go about getting credit for it?

  • A: Yes, that is an excellent way to raise additional funds on behalf of your Polar Plunge. All you need to do is complete a request with your employer. They will have us verify your donation and will send us the matching funds — usually within 6 weeks, sometimes longer.

Q: Can I get blank receipt forms to give to my donors?

  • A: Blank receipt forms are available for you to give back to donors upon receiving a contribution. They are at the following LINK.


Q: What is the minimum amount that my team needs to raise?

  • A: Teams are not required to raise any specific amount; however, every team member is required to raise a minimum of $100.

Q: Can general donations made to our team be split up amongst team members so each team member reaches the minimum?

  • A: To participate in the Polar Plunge, each participant is required to raise a minimum of $100. However, we are aware that in some cases a family member or a company will issue one check that is intended to cover multiple team members, but will just use the team name. You can help us to avoid this by asking donors to indicate in advance exactly who they are sponsoring and in what amounts. If that information is not included ahead of time but the donor did intend for it be split among team members, please contact Kelley Ligozio at kligozio@nyso.org. If you are bringing a bulk check or dollar amount with you on the day of the Polar Plunge, PLEASE have exactly how you would like the funds split up between each Polar Plunger written out or the donation will credit the team member who handing in the donations collected the day of the Polar Plunge.

Q: My team would like to put out some banners/posters/flyers/other promotional materials to promote a fundraiser and/or our general participation in the event and help us raise money. How can we get these?

  • A: We are happy to work with teams to assist in promoting participation in this event. Send us the information and we will post it on our social media accounts. Please email Kelley at kligozio@nyso.org.


Q: As a spectator, where is the best place to watch the Canandaigua Polar Plunge?

  • A: Spectators are welcome to stand along the outside perimeter of the fence line designating the official "Plunge Zone" in order to watch the action; however, they will not be allowed entry into the Plunge Zone. For those Plungers who need photographic proof, we recommend taking a waterproof camera to the water with you and asking a fellow Plunger to capture the moment. Another option is to delay your Plunge until the bulk of the crowd has already entered and exited the water, making it easier for your supporters to see you from the spectator area.

Q: Is there any charge to get into the event if I am just coming to cheer on a Plunge participant?

  • A: No! Spectators are welcome to the event free of charge. There are, however, tons of great food and beverage vendors, and other merchandise for sale at the event so you might want to have some money on hand for when you see that sweatshirt you just can't live without!


Q: I was going to participate but now I can't. Is there a way for me to cancel my registration?

  • A: If you simply want to let us know that you are no longer attending, there is no need. We expect a certain % of no-shows each year and plan accordingly.

Q: I was going to participate but now my schedule doesn't allow. Is it possible for me to turn in my money early and still receive the Polar Plunge long sleeve performance t-shirt?

  • A: Absolutely! Please contact your regional Plunge staff and they will help you arrange that!