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Jan. 1, 2013 at 9:19 PM
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New Year rung in with cold swims

EXCELSIOR, Minn., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Brave swimmers in Minnesota, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Chicago rang in the New Year Tuesday by jumping into frigid waters.

ALARC, the Minnesota club behind the 1 p.m. swim in Excelsior, said prior to the event that participants were to include the tradition's founder, Bill Wenmark, 86, who has participated in 22 previous New Year's Day swims.

The Hilton Head (S.C.) Island Packet reported the 11 a.m. Hilton Head Polar Bear Plunge at Coligny Beach was expected to be attended by at least 1,000 brave swimmers while the Friends of Hunting Island said a similar number was expected for the 1 p.m. Pelican Plunge at Hunting Island State Park, which raised funds for the Discover Carolina educational program.

The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club in Wisconsin said its 27th annual plunge was scheduled for noon Tuesday and participants were asked to donate cash or nonperishable food items for charity Feed My People, the Door County (Wis.) Advocate reported.

WBBM-FM, Chicago, reported 50 brave souls in the city jumped into Lake Michigan, where the water was measured at 37 degrees and the air was an even colder 18 degrees, for the annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Couple discover man's bag of memories

DETROIT, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A Detroit couple said they discovered a bag containing photos and love letters belonging to a World War II veteran while remodeling their home.

Hubert Sawyers III and Eliza Sorise-Sawyers said the Topps bag was dislodged from atop a heating conduit in the basement of their North Rosedale Park home during the summer while a contractor was threading pipes in their kitchen, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.

Inside the bag, the couple discovered dozens of photos, love letters and other documents belonging to the home's previous occupant, World War II veteran Stanley Gargas.

The objects included letters from women he dated before marrying his wife, Sadie Gargas, and photos of him during his military career and his life in Detroit after returning to the United States. The bag also included Gargas' discharge papers from the military.

The couple said a nephew who retrieved the Gargas' belongings must have missed the bag, and Stanley Gargas may have wanted it that way.

"These were cherished memories, but he didn't want to flaunt it," Sawyers said.

Susan Cleva, 83, Gargas' sister-in-law, said the veteran died in 2004 and Sadie Gargas is living with Alzheimer's disease in a nursing home.

Trailer owner spots theft from the sky

LABELLE, Fla., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said they arrested an alleged trailer thief after the owner spotted the crime in progress while flying his plane over the property.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said the Glades County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call Sunday afternoon from David Zehntner, who said he was flying his personal airplane over his Labelle home and spotted someone stealing his 6x12 foot trailer from the home.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office was contacted for help and deputies pulled over a 2002 Toyota Tundra pulling the pilfered trailer and detained the driver, Gary Robert Haines, 59, until Charlotte County deputies arrived and made the official arrest.

Haines was jailed on a grand theft charge and released Monday morning after posting $2,500 bond.

Man arrested for drive-by deer shooting

DARBY, Fla., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Florida police said two men were arrested on allegations of executing a drive-by shooting of a deer, killing the animal.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said Michael McCord, 51, allegedly pulled over to the side of State Road 52, near Darby, around 10:40 p.m. Saturday when he and Charles Jones, 54, spotted a "small young deer" near the road, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported Tuesday.

Jones allegedly aimed a rifle out the window of the Ford Explorer and shot the deer, which the men allegedly left dead at the roadside.

Deputies said Jones threw the rifle out the window of the car a few miles down the road.

A deputy eventually caught up with the vehicle and arrested the men.

Jones was charged with taking wildlife on a road and released on his own recognizance. McCord was charged with willful waste of wildlife, taking wildlife on a road and discharging a firearm in public. He was released after posting $2,500 bond.

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