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Photos by Lowell Anderson/Alexandria Echo Press Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr, Deputy Bryan Savaloja and Deputy Luke Manderschied make the Polar Bear Plunge in Alexandria last Sunday afternoon. Looking on are Jennifer Palm, Keith Waaraniemi and Erika Penner.

Brrrrrrrrr!

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A brisk winter wind scraped across the region Sunday afternoon, whipping up a bone-chilling backdrop for the 2011 Alexandria Polar Bear Plunge.

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This year's Polar Plunge registered 263 people who willingly jumped into the icy water, raising approximately $48,500 for Special Olympics Minnesota.

The temperature on Lake Darling at the time of the Plunge was 20 degrees, but with the wind gusting across the lake at 18 miles per hour, it felt like 4 degrees - perhaps colder for those who took the plunge.

A couple hundred people gathered in front of Arrowwood Resort to watch the Polar Plunge. They laughed at the jumpers' costumes, they gasped right along with the jumpers when they hit the water, and with mittened hands and scarf-covered faces, they cheered on the brave souls who took the plunge.

Last year in Alexandria, 276 jumpers raised about $44,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota.

The money raised for Special Olympics Minnesota helps offer year-round sports training and competition to more than 6,800 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

There are 14 Polar Bear Plunge events held across the state and local law enforcement coordinates them.

Wadena area firefighters and emergency responders wore T-shirts saying "Lights and Sirens of the EF-4."

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