Published On: Fri, Feb 28th, 2014

Stellar lineup of entertainment planned for 11th Annual Polar Bear Plunge

A stellar lineup of entertainment is planned for the 11th annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge, including a stunt plane flyover, a bluegrass band and the Greenbrier East High School JROTC Color Guard.
Polar Bear Plunge

Cadets from the Greenbrier East High School JROTC Color Guard perform the national anthem on the swinging bridge at Blue Bend during the 2013 polar bear plunge. (Photo courtesy of Connie Manchester)

The Mar. 8 Polar Bear Plunge, held at the Blue Bend Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest, has a 1 p.m. start time and is a benefit fundraiser for the Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg, a nonprofit agency that interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties and aids in the prosecution of offenders.

Professional stunt pilot Scott Yoak, who lives in Lewisburg, will get the festivities started by performing a flyover of the event in his vintage Korean War plane, known as a Navy T-34 Mentor. During the airshow season, Yoak performs all across the United States and also does flyovers of professional football and baseball stadiums.

Yoak is the son of the late Bill Yoak, a professional movie stunt pilot, who also rebuilt and re-fabricated planes, most notably the Quicksilver P-51. Scott Yoak said the 1956 Navy T-34 Mentor he will be flying at the plunge is capable of speeds up to 240 mph.

“It’s a sweet little airplane and very maneuverable and it was used as the advanced training plane for the Navy for the Korean War,” Yoak, who has been flying for over 12 years, said. “I’m proud to be part of the annual polar bear plunge and can’t wait to get out there.”

After the plunge, the local Half Bad Bluegrass Band will be playing at the large shelter inside the Blue Bend Campground. The Half Bad Bluegrass Band was started back in 2005 by John Lively, of Dawson, as he and friends would gather around an old coal stove in his barn loft to play music.

Lively plays the banjo, his wife Heather is on lead vocals, and other band members include: Mike Estep, dog house bass; Lee Mack, mandolin; and Grant Bennett, lead guitar. The group has released three CD’s.

“We call it upbeat bluegrass with maybe some newgrass mixed in there,” Lively said. “These are songs that everybody knows the words to and you could sing them with your 80-year-old grandmother or your five-year-old son.”

Steeped in tradition, the plunge will also feature the Greenbrier East High School JROTC Color Guard, with a trumpet performance of the National Anthem performed on the Blue Bend swinging bridge. With the backdrop of the beautiful mountains and Anthony Creek, the performance of the cadets is sure to bring a tear to your eyes.

Making her second appearance at the plunge is Party with Penny (aka Penny Curtis). Penny will be on the spectator’s side playing music before and during the plunge. She also serves as the MC for the event.

This year’s food vendor will again be When Pigs Fly, featuring BBQ sandwiches and drinks. Professional Security Services, of Lewisburg, has been hired to handle security for the event.

The plunge was named a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society for 2014. Last year, over 130 plungers braved the 36-degree waters of Anthony Creek to raise funds and create awareness about child abuse in our local communities. In the past six years, the club has raised almost $40,000 for the CYAC. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds benefits the CYAC. For information on how to sponsor a plunger, call 304-645-4668.