Originally created 01/06/02

Odds and ends

JACKSONPORT, Wis. -- Call them crazy. Call them stupid. But don't call them cowards.

At least 1,000 people took to the water in Wisconsin on New Year's Day, participating in the annual Polar Bear Swim in temperatures that were a bit warmer than in years past.

"Piece of cake," said Sturgeon Bay resident Ade Webber, who has participated in most of the 16 swims in Jacksonport. "This was a wimpy year."

Air temperatures were 30 degrees and water temperatures hit 32 degrees for the Jacksonport swim, which boasts one of the largest annual turnouts of any Polar Bear Club. As many as 1,500 spectators urged hundreds of participants to spend a few seconds in the icy waters of Lake Michigan when the clock struck noon on New Year's Day.

"We haven't heard of another club that has 600 in the water at a time," said J.R. Jarosh, who founded the club as a teen-ager in 1986.

"It is a euphoric, frozen feeling," he said. "Your skin is kind of tingling."

Farther south along Lake Michigan, hundreds more entered Milwaukee's Bradford Beach for their moment of sheer shivers.

"There's nothing like this in Phoenix," said John Lacourciere, who traveled north to videotape two friends taking a dip.

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BILLINGS, Mont. -- Planet Lockwood, a bar and casino in suburban Billings, has been one of the steadiest supporters of Lockwood Little League since the club opened five years ago.

No more, now that Little League President Lynn Hilliard knows the naked truth about the club's latest entertainment offerings.

Hilliard says Planet Lockwood is no longer an appropriate sponsor because it started offering live nude dancing the night after Christmas.

"There's a lot of people just very uncomfortable and very unhappy that they're doing this," she said.

Hilliard said the club has sponsored a junior girls' softball team and staged annual fund-raisers. It has donated $80 to $300 a year to the Little League.

"If they continue with their plans," she said, "then no, Lockwood Little League will not accept money from them."

Planet Lockwood is owned by Linda Healow of Billings, who declined to answer any questions.

Yellowstone County officials have received a few telephone calls about the club's new adult shows, but no one has filed a complaint. Deputy County Attorney Mark English said the nude dancing apparently does not violate any state or local laws.

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BROCKPORT, N.Y. -- Emma Stark clearly remembers seeing the Empire State Building going up in 1930.

Much more surprising is her ability to recall New York's oldest skyscraper - the Flatiron Building - under construction in 1902. Then again, she's a whole decade older than that venerable tower.

Stark celebrated her 109th birthday on New Year's Day at Lakeside Beikirch Care Center in this town 20 miles west of Rochester.

Her grandson, Frank Schrimp, who is all of 64, thinks her aversion to cigarettes and alcohol might explain her longevity. Or, he added, "maybe she's just an oddity of nature, just a hardworking woman."

Stark has outlived her husband and their two daughters but boasts three grandsons, nine great-grandchildren, 13 great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great-granddaughter - a 2-year-old.

Born in Flanders, N.J., when Benjamin Harrison was president, she moved with her family to New York and lived there for 65 years.


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