DENVILLE, NJ -- More than 60 Denville residents decided to do a big dare for a good cause on Sat., Feb. 22. During the sunny, yet cold morning, more than 150 township residents assembled at Cooks Pond for the fourth annual Polar Plunge.

The Polar Plunge has been organized by the Denville Recreation Department since its creation. Originally starting off as a fundraiser for Project Playground 2.0, the Polar Plunge has been used to support local charities. This year, recreation selected Denville S.P.A.R.K. (Supportive Parents Advocating for Our Kids) as the event’s benefactor.

Denville S.P.A.R.K. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting disabled children by providing healthy homes and opportunities to develop into independent adults. Representatives of the organization and some individuals it supports were present and even participated in the activities.

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“For all the bad in the world, to see all these people support our cause at S.P.A.R.K., it means everything to me and shows there is a lot of good people around,” said Susan Reinhardt, a Denville resident and president of S.P.A.R.K.

Some of those good people who jumped into the cold water included local politicians, such as Councilman Douglas Gabel, who has been participating in the Polar Plunge since its creation.

“I feel invigorated, pumped up and all else,” said Councilman Gabel.

“I hope for a safe plunge and a great crowd. I also like to thank the recreation organizers and the fire departments who came out here for safety and support.”

For the Polar Plunge, Councilman Gabel wore a shark costume! Prior to the plunging, there was a costume contest, where many plungers came as well-known characters, such as Batman, Fred Flintstone and Jack Sparrow. The winner of the contest was Denville’s 12-year-old Madison Ridner, who dressed up as an elf.

“It’s very cold, but fun running into the icy pond to raise for a good cause,” said Ridner, whose prize for winning the contest was a gift certificate to Denville Seafood.

Since its creation, the Polar Plunge has raised more than $30,000 for charity. This year, everyone was proud to hear that nearly $20,000 was raised; all because everyone in Denville braved the icy February waters of Cooks Pond.

Cooks Pond is also the location of other community events such as the annual Denville Triathlon during the summer.

To learn more about Denville S.P.A.R.K., visit their website at


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