Second annual Frosty Frolic fundraiser to be held Feb. 7

Frosty frolickers plunge into the icy waters of the Monongahela River

Polar philanthropists plunge into the icy waters of the Monongahela River during last year’s Frosty Frolic

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is on February 18 next year, but area residents can get into an early penitential mood 11 days sooner by taking an icy mid-winter plunge into the frigid waters of the Monongahela.

Now in its second year, Frosty Frolic, a fundraiser to benefit the California Area School District, is open to people of all ages and will be held on Water Street in Coal Center’ Dowler Park across from Lagerhead’s restaurant near the borough building. The February 7 event will start at 1 p.m. with participant registration, followed by costume judging at 1:20 p.m. and the actual plunge at 1:30 p.m.

“We decided to hold the Frolic in February when there’s not many other things to do,” said Lisa Buday, a lawyer from California who also serves as a trustee and past president of the California Area School District Foundation, the event organizer. “It also gives people an excuse to get crazy in the cold.”

Last year, besides having to shovel five-inches of newly fallen snow off the Coal Center sidewalks, close to 100 Frolic participants raised $5,000 to help to provide scholarships, grants and other support to the students and the California Area School District.

This year, the registration fee for plungers is $10 and $20 for those who choose only to wade. All registrants, including the waders, must sign a release form prior to the plunge. For their efforts, they  will receive a long-sleeve T-shirt and a draw string bag donated by Mon Valley Hospital. Last year’s T-shirts were light blue with dark blue lettering, but the color of this year’s shirts is as yet undetermined.

To keep things comfortable for the participants, both male and female warming tents will be available for changing. In case of high water or a frozen river, organizers will  bring in a dunking tank as a substitute for the river.

“Participants usually go into and out of the water as fast as they can,” Buday said. “A river rescue crew in wet suits will be on hand in the river and remain there until everyone is out. But the only thing they had to rescue last year was my Trojan hat and a woman’s bikini top.”

Prizes in the form of gift cards and gift certificates to area restaurants and businesses will be awarded the oldest and youngest participant. Last year’s prizes for the youngest plungers went to Nick Fedeli, 10, Nathan O’Savage, 11, and Jaiden Zuzack, also 11, while Mark Nowak, a Cal U. professor, 57 at the time, took home the prize for the oldest.

Additional prizes will be awarded those with the best costume, and three levels of prizes will go to the groups (Cal U students, California High School students and Alumni as well as community participants) that raise the most money for the event. Prizes will be awarded immediately following the plunge at Lagerheads restaurant and bar.

“Last year, an entire group dressed in costume with beads as if they were going to the Mardi Gras,” said Buday, who went to the fundraiser dressed as a Trojan mascot.

Foundation vice-president, Walter MacFann is given credit for coming up with the idea for organizing the Frolic, and a Foundation committee landed on the title Frosty Frolic to distinguish it from similar fundraisers.

At the moment, the Foundation is seeking sponsors at various levels to help offset expenses of insurance, tents and prizes. Registrations forms, pledge sheets, sponsor forms and releases are available by contacting Lisa Buday at 724-938-1355 or sending an email to

The Foundation is offering the following sponsorship levels:

  • Frozen Level-$1000 and up –  Logo/listing on T-shirt, inclusion in media announcements and publicity, prominent signage at event.
  • Freezing Level-$500 to $999 – Prominent Listing on T-shirt and Sponsor signs.
  • Frigid Level-$250 to $499 – Listing on participant T-shirt and Sponsor signs, smaller font
  • Frosty Level-$100 to $249 – Listing on participant T-shirt, smallest font
  • The Foundation is also accepting in-kind donations of gift cards, gift certificates and “giveaways” for participants.

“We’re hoping everyone will want to come and join us on February 7 for our Frosty Frolic in the Mon,” Buday said.

For more information, 724-938-1355.
Story by Dave Zuchowski for Pennsylvania Bridges

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