‘Plunge’ a Highland Park family’s tradition
Tyler Kraines, 10, and his father, Jeff, of Highland Park participate in the 14th Annual Polar Bear Plunge held at the Waukegan Municipal Beach. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 16, 2013 8:36AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Jeff Kraines’ idea of how to spend New Year’s Day morning might strike many groggy revelers as torture, but there were many kindred spirits at the 14th Annual Polar Bear Plunge in Waukegan.
The Highland Park resident and his son Tyler were among 350 people to shed their winter parkas on a frigid 15-degree morning and plunge into the icy waters of Lake Michigan at the Waukegan swimming beach — wearing only their swimming suits and shoes.
Kraines, a certified public accountant, has been participating in the Polar Bear Plunge in Waukegan since 2002 when his wife Kelly was pregnant with son Tyler.
For the past three years, Tyler, now 10 and a fifth grader at Wayne Thomas School, has joined his Dad for the run into the lake.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County.
Q. Once on a lark, maybe, but you’ve been doing this now for 12 years. What keeps you coming back for more?
A. It’s just on the side of crazy, always a fun subject to bring up with people, and everyone there is in a good, festive mood. It’s an automatic hangover cure.
Q. You thought it was too cold a day this year for Tyler to take the plunge. What changed your mind?
A. I told him it was going to be 15 degrees out. He said, with determination,”Is there a law against 10-year-olds running into the lake when it’s 15 degrees out?”
Q. Was this one of the colder years since you started?
A. It was cold, but the real factor is how much ice is on the ground. This year there was little ice, but you ALWAYS run back to your towel.
Q. CPAs aren’t generally thought of as wild-and-crazy types. Do you break the mold?
A. I’ve been told I have too much personality to be an accountant.