Written by Breanne Gibb.
Jumping in a pool of ice-cold water then racing across the snow into a hot tub is what Rexburg locals call fun. Participants who attended the SnowFest held at Smith Park in Rexburg on Saturday, Jan. 30, do this willingly each year.
The Polar Bear Swim, as described before, is one of the few activities at Rexburg’s annual SnowFest. A hot chocolate hut, treasure hunting in the snow, sledding, horse drawn wagon rides, snow graffiti and snowball target practice is how families and those looking for something fun to do during the winter, is passed.
“I have gone to the SnowFest ever since I could remember,” said Cody Chapman, a Rexburg local and a freshman studying exercise physiology. “In my youth there was not a year of the SnowFest that I missed. Our family looked forward to going every single year.”
Jeff Crowther, a citizen of Rexburg who oversaw this year’s SnowFest, said it is a tradition that has been going on for about seven years.
“It’s a great event for the community to get out in the snow and have fun. It’s a free event and it’s lots of fun for the whole family.”
Jerry Merrill, Rexburg City Mayor, said the tradition of the SnowFest started because about this time of the year sometimes people start getting tired of the snow and the cold weather.
“We wanted to do something fun so that the community can come together and just have a good time and do some outdoor stuff,” Merrill said.
Merrill braved the Polar Bear Swim and plunged into the pool that was frosted with ice before anyone else.
“The polar bear plunge is my favorite event,” Merrill said. “I thought it would be a good example for people to get involved. It was really really cold — definitely woke me right up.”
The spectators at the Polar Bear Swim watched each individual shiver in their swimsuits, then jump into the pool. They sometimes splashed frigidly cold water onto those standing close by.
“There’s a lot of fun things here [the SnowFest] to do, but for some reason jumping in freezing cold water then getting into a nice warm hot tub, there’s just something about it that’s hard to beat,” Merrill said.
The vast amount of snow Rexburg receives may seem like only a nuisance to some, but the citizens of Rexburg have found a way to enjoy and make the absolute best of it.
“We got to put it to some good use,” Chapman said.