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Polar bear royalty crowned in Sea Isle City

Upper Township Gazette - 3/1/2017

SEA ISLE CITY ? An estimated 60,000 visitors spent Presidents Day Weekend in Sea Isle City for the 23rd annual Polar Bear Plunge, but only four people walked away with a crown.

Festivities started on Friday, Feb. 17 with the crowning of the Polar Bear Royal Family and concluded on Sunday, Feb. 19 with the Mike's Seafood Run/Walk for Autism and the first annual Polar Bear Cornhole Tournament. Thousands took part in the Polar Bear Plunge Saturday, Feb. 18.

The 2017 Polar Bear Prince and Princess honors went to Kevin Connolly, 12, of Woodbine, and Kenzie Haley, 16, of West Chester, Pa.

Following a performance by The Insiders Band, La Costa's Jimmy Bennett hosted the 2017 King and Queen Contest, won by Ed Cunane and Kathy Betsch. The duo raised a combined total of more than $21,000 to benefit autism charities. Each of the winners was presented with a royal crown and sash. The prince and princess each also received a GoPro camera, and the king and queen each received an Apple watch.

Polar Bear Plunge weekend also included a Costume Contest. This year's first-place winners included "Advertising All Stars" as best in show, "Sharks" in the individual/small group, "Disney Convicts" in medium group, and "Mardi Gras" in the large group.

The 5K run/1-mile walk featured more than 3,000 participants and raised more than $125,000 to benefit Autism Speaks, special services schools, autism support groups, and families of special-needs children, according to a press release. The top three male finishers were Zach Miller, Alexander Ermold and Marquis Cox, and the top three females were Bridgette Higgins, Gabby Capuzzi and Sarah Tull. Donations are still being accepted at

The Philadelphia Cornhole League and La Costa hosted the inaugural Polar Bear Cornhole Tournament after the run. With more than 50 teams signed up to play, the event raised more than $1,000 for autism charities. Corey Whalen and Colton Heisey, of Philadelphia, won the tournament and received a $300 cash prize.

Next year's event is scheduled for Feb. 16-18.


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