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Polar Plunge at Lake Anne

Friday, February 4, 2011; 1:58 AM

Go ahead; take the plunge in your relationship.

No need for a ring. Start with committing to a totally crazy act together. Like jumping into an icy lake in February.

Unlike most of the area's polar plunges, where weather-agnostic daredevils race toward water en masse, the Freezin' for a Reason Virginia Polar Dip at Lake Anne in Reston on Saturday features groups of two or three at a time. Write down why you're participating when you register, and your story will be announced before you leap.

"My husband and I usually jump together," says Gail Toth, who founded the Reston event, one of a series of East Coast plunges that benefits Camp Sunshine, a sleep-away camp in Maine for kids with life-threatening illnesses.

If the thought of wearing a swimsuit in front of your date is more terrifying than the cold, don't worry. Some jumpers wear costumes, and there's also the "Chicken Dip" option, where you dunk only your feet in the water.

Going for vicarious thrills is fine, too: Hundreds of spectators come to cheer on the jumpers and stroll around Lake Anne Plaza, a mid-1960s development where boxy apartments sit above shops and restaurants around a concrete-edged, man-made lake.

After plunging, warm up in the plaza's community center with appetizers and hot drinks, and dine at the plaza's Jasmine Cafe; the restaurant will donate 20 percent of the day's checks to Camp Sunshine. Or move on to Reston's Town Center, and get hot chocolate at Pitango Gelato or Red Velvet Cupcakery. The bakery's lemon-with-coconut-frosting cupcake is the perfect complement to a day spent denying winter's harsh temperatures.

It's called "Summertime."

- Anne Kenderdine

Freezin' for a Reason Polar Dip, 2 p.m. Saturday. Lake Anne Plaza, 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston. www.freezinforareason.com . $100 per person to jump; free to watch. Jasmine Cafe, 1633 Washington Plaza N., Reston. 703-471-9114. Red Velvet Cupcakery, 11939 Democracy Dr., Reston. 703-464-7075. www.redvelvetcupcakery.com . Pitango Gelato, 11942 Democracy Dr., Reston. 703-606-9906. www.pitangogelato.com.

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