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You are here The Red Mill Inn News 2010  Story

B’ville’s third annual Big Chill next weekend

By Erin Wisneski /
January 18, 2010
B’ville’s third annual Big Chill next weekend. The Red Mill Inn Fall, Baldwinsville NY

B’ville’s third annual Big Chill next weekend. The Red Mill Inn Fall, Baldwinsville NY

Imagine 150 summer-clad individuals wading into the Seneca River this January.

Those are the numbers Big Chill organizers are hoping to recruit for the Baldwinsville winter festival’s main event, the Polar Bear Plunge. People seem to enjoy the chilly challenge of jumping into the icy waters along the edge of Mercer Park as registration more than doubled from 30 plungers the first year to 75 the second year. Organizers hope the trend continues.

“Beat the winter blues and help some charities and the community,” said Lee Wilder, executive director of the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce and an organizer of the event.

Now in its third year, Baldwinsville’s Big Chill will be held Friday Jan. 29 and Saturday Jan. 30.

Friday’s activities include the Vino-Casino, held from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Red Mill Inn.

“Come out and join us in tasting 8 to 10 wines from around the world,” Wilder said.
Empire Merchants will offer a unique selection of wines from all parts of the globe, Tabatha's Restaurant will provide a creative array of hors d'oeuvres throughout the evening and will bring casino gaming to The Red Mill Inn where prize winners will be announced every 15 minutes.

Saturday’s activities will take place from noon to 5 p.m. at Mercer Park.

Individual plungers will take to the chilly waters beginning at 1 p.m. with increments of four or five people at a time. At 1:45 p.m., corporate teams will take the plunge.

In addition to the Polar Bear Plunge, the event will include a snowman building contest (from 1 to 2 p.m.) and a Best-in-Bowl tasting competition held under a 40- by 90-foot heated tent. Area restaurants will offer samples of their best dish, a change from last year’s chili cook-off. Admission to the tent is $10 per person (no cost for children under 12 years old). Participants can also hang out by the bonfire and listen to music playing all afternoon.

“[The Big Chill] is a great way to get out and have some fun in the community and see some crazy costumes while people jump into the river,” Wilder said. “There’s not too many opportunities you have to see businesses come together and do a team building experience jumping into the river with their coworkers. It’s just an all around, fun family event that all ages can enjoy.”

New this year is the Poker Bear Express. From 5 to 9 p.m., participants will take their $10 Poker Bear Express ticket to six Baldwinsville establishments, Lake Effect, Edgewater, Pizza Man, Fireside Inn, Mohegan Manor and Badlands, to put together the best poker hand (wild cards will be available for $5). Winners of the 50/50 pot will be announced at 9:30 p.m. Saturday evening at the Fireside Inn.

Proceeds from the Big Chill benefit Cystic Fibrosis, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY and the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce. Last year’s event netted more than $12,000.

“We hope to really knock that [figure] out of the ballpark this year,” Wilder said.

Sponsors include Channel 3 News, 93Q, Empower Federal Credit union and Syracuse Home Association.

“Without these sponsorships, we could not put on such an event,” Wilder said.

Tickets for Friday’s Vino-Casino can be purchased at the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce office, the Red Mill Inn or the Canal Walk Café. Registration for the Polar Bear Plunge will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday Jan. 28 at the Fireside Inn. At this time, all donations are due. After registering their team members, corporate plungers will receive a plunge time for the event. All plungers will receive a plunge T-shirt for their participation.

For more information, call the chamber office at 638-0550, e-mail or visit

Corporate challengers from C&R Supply get pumped up before heading into the river.

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