By Michael Abeyta

EVERGREEN, Colo. (CBS4) — It is cold, it is windy, and it is icy in Evergreen this time of year — but that’s just how people who came out to Buchanan Pond Wednesday like it. Held reliably year after year on New Year’s Day, the Evergreen Lake Plunge is the unofficial end of the holiday season in Colorado.

Jim Cowee (credit: CBS)

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Matt Sanders has seen the event on the news every year and decided this year, since he’s turning 50, he should finally live a little. He dressed like an elf – which caught the attention of CBS4’s Alan Gionet who was emceeing the event.

Matt Sanders (credit: CBS)

He asked Matt to be the honorary first jumper. It makes sense to Matt. “I mean if you’re going to have someone go first it should be a big elf,” he said. “As long as I can-not have my heart come to a screeching halt. That’s my goal today.”

Matt Sanders

Matt Sanders (credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

If you ask Palmer Peterson, he could be in trouble. She jumps for the adrenaline but admits it doesn’t feel good once you’re in the water.

“Like death,” she said, “Like the physical embodiment of death. Like knives.”

Even still the madness and merriment continued on in 2020. Some needed a little more coaxing than others to jump in like Gionet’s own daughter, Genevieve.

(credit: CBS)

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Karl Zillgitt was nervous for a different reason. He was planning to propose to his girlfriend Quinlyn.

“Karl you got something you want to say?” asked Gionet.

(credit: CBS)

“Actually I kind of do. Hey babe… Do you want to take the plunge with me?” he asked. “I do yes!” she responded.

The two love birds met at the Lake Plunge five years ago and Karl decided there was no better way to start their lives together than with some type two fun at the place where they first met. Quinlyn says it’s time for them to settle down. “This is our last year doing the polar plunge.” She said. “It’s too cold!” Karl adds.

Steve Hoogendoorn

Steve Hoogendoorn (credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

Even so, their love story warmed hearts enough Wednesday so that even the timidest eventually dared to take a leap themselves. Eventually — even Genevieve!

The event raises money for Active4All, a nonprofit that mobilizes public support and financial resources for the improvement of parks and recreational opportunities in Evergreen. This year, about 170 people participated and raised over $11,000!

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Michael Abeyta