GO­ING GAGA AT PO­LAR PLUNGE

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - NEIL STEIN­BERG is tak­ing the day off MITCHDUDEK @ MitchDudek Email: mdudek@sun­times.com

Lady Gaga had an im­por­tant ques­tion for her fi­ance, Tay­lor Kin­ney, a star of NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” be­fore tak­ing part in the Po­lar Plunge on Sun­day at North Av­enue Beach.

“Can I get your Black­hawks hat wet? Or am I go­ing to get in trou­ble?”

Kin­ney signed off on the re­quest.

Al Roker, who also plunged, ex­plained why he would not be wear­ing a Speedo bathing suit.

“It’s ac­tu­ally a fed­eral man­date. I’m not al­lowed to wear a Speedo,” the NBC weath­er­man said dur­ing a pre- plunge chitchat with re­porters.

“I feel like ev­ery­one’s stalling right now,” said Gaga.

The wa­ter tem­per­a­ture was 36 de­grees.

Gaga held her nose as she hitched a pig­gy­back ride on Kin­ney, who col­lapsed into the frigid wa­ter— a deja vu mo­ment of their 2015 plunge.

Kin­ney broke down their style: “a pig­gy­back flop, dun­keroo with a Her­mann sumo­plex at the end.”

His fel­low cast mem­bers, along with ac­tors from “Chicago PD,” jumped in, too— frol­ick­ing and splash­ing for a minute be­fore run­ning breath­less for dry land.

“I’m so proud of all the kids who are here,” said a drip­ping- wet Gaga. “This is so awe­some and in­spir­ing. This is no big deal. We’re just happy to be there for them,” she said of the event— which raises money for Spe­cial Olympics— as she slapped high fives to vol­un­teers hand­ing out tow­els.

Quin­ton Aaron, the ac­tor who played NFL line­man Michael Oher in the film “Blind­side,” also plunged and posed for self­ies be­fore dry­ing off. Celebrity chef Gra­ham El­liot got wet too.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of­fered a round of fist bumps to emer­gency per­son­nel on hand be­fore the event, which hosted nearly 6,000 plungers, kicked off at 10 a. m.

Emanuel helped boost the plunge pop­u­lar­ity by chal­leng­ing “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fal­lon to plunge two years ago. Fal­lon ac­cepted. Fundrais­ing, at­ten­dance and me­dia cov­er­age have grown each year since. Last year ac­tor Vince Vaughn plunged wear­ing a Black­hawks jersey.

As of Sun­day, the event had raised about $ 1.3 mil­lion— beat­ing last year’s record of $ 1 mil­lion.

Nine mem­bers of the City Coun­cil plunged, in­clud­ing Matt O’Shea ( 19th) and Howard Brookins ( 21st). The Loyola Academy state cham­pion foot­ball team plunged with their tro­phy.

And hun­dreds of cos­tumed plungers showed up, in­clud­ing a man dressed as the pope, two guys in tuxe­does and four peo­ple dressed as var­i­ous fruit.

Kayleigh Blosser, 29, of Lake View, re­cruited three friends to dress as pieces of pizza.

“We’re cold pizza,” said Blosser, whose post- plunge game plan called for a whiskey on the rocks.

“Or a sauna,” said an­other piece of pizza.

“Pizza is the best; ev­ery­one should be pizza,” Blosser said.

“I’M SO PROUD OF ALL THE KIDS WHO ARE HERE, THIS IS SO AWE­SOME AND IN­SPIR­ING. THIS IS NO BIG DEAL. WE’RE JUST HAPPY TO BE THERE FOR THEM.”

— Lady Gaga at the Po­lar Plunge, which as of Sun­day had raised $ 1.3M for the Spe­cial Olympics

Lady Gaga and her fi­ancé Tay­lor Kin­ney dry off af­ter jump­ing into the frigid wa­ters of Lake Michi­gan dur­ing the 16th An­nual Chicago Po­lar Plunge at North Av­enue Beach, Sun­day.

| ASH­LEE REZIN/ SUN- TIMES PHO­TOS

Mayor Rahm Emanuel greets Chicago Fire Depart­ment per­son­nel be­fore the plunge.

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