Buena Vista took a brave leap into the frigid waters of the Arkansas River at the Buena Vista River Park during Christmas Opening’s Polar Plunge.

This year, its third in BV, the Plunge raised $479 for Toys for Tikes, a local offshoot of the nationwide Toys for Tots program organized by the Buena Vista High School student council which distributes toys to kids.

Participants leapt into the river at the put-in near the Surf Hotel – usually in a fully-committed cannonball resurfaced with a gasp and swam back to shore as soon as possible to drape themselves with a towel just as hastily.

Capping off the plunge, organizer Earl Richmond, the director of the town’s recreation department, took off his emceeing cap … and jacket … and boots, and made the icy jump himself.

“It was fun, and a lot of people enjoyed being there,” Richmond said.

Even Santa got in on the action, albeit unintentionally.

Saint Nick was watching over the event for safety from a stand-up paddleboard when he lost his balance and took a dive after Richmond’s jump.

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