Sunday, March 1 is almost here! Thank you for being a part of this wonderful day!  This fundraiser is extremely important to the 7,500+ Special Olympics Chicago athletes that the Chicago Polar Plunge benefits. You are what makes this day possible, so thank you! We are expecting 4,000+ of you to take the plunge and thousands of spectators on top of that.  

We want to make sure you are properly prepared. Below are some helpful reminders to get you ready! 

Itinerary March 1, 2020:

8:00 AM Beach & Registration Opens

9:45 AM Opening Ceremony

10:00 AM Meltdown Tent Opens

10:30 AM–11:15 AM Plunge Waves


North Avenue Beach

1601 N. Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL 60611


We encourage public transportation/carpooling/rideshare. If driving, the parking lot at Lincoln Park Zoo is free for the Plunge. The lot is located at Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive, 2400 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614.

Check in process:
We recommend checking in ahead of time during one of the sessions below. (listed below) prior to Sunday, March 1 to pick up your t-shirt, wristbands and turn in any offline donations. Groups of 20 or more will be required to pick up their team's materials prior to March 1.

Early pickup dates:

Friday, February 28, from 3:00–6:30 PM

Saturday, February 29, from 10:00 AM–2:00 PM

Sunday, March 1, from 8:00–10:00 AM

What to Bring

Please bring your bags and dry items with you as you enter the warming tents. As far as what to wear into the water, less is better. Shoes are REQUIRED to take the plunge. Don’t forget about the costume contest!

Please bring a bag with the following:

  • Shoes (required to plunge) 
  • A warm change of clothing

Extra items you might want to bring include

  • An extra towel
  • A waterproof phone case (available for $5 at our souvenir tent)

What to do with your Belongings

One great thing about bringing friends to watch is that they can hold your bag while you plunge. But don’t worry. If you want to keep your gear handy, just take it with you into the heating tents before you plunge. Our volunteers will direct you to leave your bags on a tarp before heading into the water as a “Gear Check”. After you take the plunge and exit the water, volunteers will hand you a souvenir towel and will direct you to your bag right where you left it on the dry tarp. 

The boathouse has restrooms available to all Plungers before and after the event, as well as changing rooms throughout the beach. 

Please note: Special Olympics Chicago is not responsible for lost or stolen personal belongings. Please leave all items at your own risk. We do have a lost and found on site.


Play it safe! Remember there is no diving allowed!


Meltdown Party and Olympic Village:

Following the Plunge, come enjoy our meltdown party. Featuring food, a cash bar, music and most importantly, HEATERS! On your way there, check out Olympic Village! You can take photos at our selfie stations, check out athlete artwork from Envisions artists, buy sweet treats from Misericordia, or buttons from Easterseals!

You should expect to have an absolute blast! Also, expect a very large crowd filled with tons of energy. The actual plunge is short and sweet, but you may have to wait in line before you jump in the water. You can listen to music, buy Polar Plunge merchandise, food, and/or drinks while mingling with thousands of fellow Plungers and spectators. 

See you soon, Plungers!