VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Thousands of participants took to Virginia Beach Saturday for the annual Polar Plunge.

Participants and spectators gathered on the oceanfront in support of Special Olympics Virginia.

Since 1993, more than 56,000 plungers have raised millions of dollars for Special Olympics Virginia. The inaugural Polar Plunge took place in 1993 at the Clarion Hotel when 108 plungers raised more than $11,000 for Special Olympics Virginia.

The event had many activities visitors could take part in such as a costume contest, a parade along the boardwalk, browsing local vendors and listening to live music. Guest could also enjoy some tasty treats like frosty beverages and free Wawa hot chocolate and coffee.

Many braved the cold temperature for the cause, one participant even had a special connection to it.

“I have two daughters who are special Olympians and one of them is actually here somewhere with his wife. It’s great because the cause could not be better,” Mike Lattanzio said fresh out of the ocean water.

Many people attending this year had never taken the plunge before, including some from The American Legion who said they were just as excited to get out of the water as they were to get in.

“We’ve got a hotel to stay in. We’ve got a bunch of people waiting with towels.”

When the timer counted down, the first group of participants ran to the waves with some Special Olympians following shortly after. Virginia Beach Councilmember Worth Remick was at the event and said how proud he was of the people in his district for helping out Virginia’s special athletes.

“I have a lot of pride in all of it because these are people helping people. This is a great community and I’m happy to be out here,” Remick said.

It cost $100 to take the Plunge ‒ and the more you raise, the cooler the prizes. The annual event helps fund year-round programs for 18,000+ Special Olympics Virginia athletes.

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