Polar Bear Swims Ring in New Year
Every New Year’s Day thousands of people nationwide plunge into the cold local waters to bring in the New Year. This plunge is called a Polar Bear Swim.
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club opens their New Year day plunge to the community. While it is free to participate, donations are accepted and then donated to Camp Sunshine. The club gets together every Sunday from November through April to swim and proclaims to be the “oldest winter bathing organization in the United States.” Camp Sunshine supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families.
Other plunges that benefit Camp Sunshine are St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY; Bangor Plunge in Dedham, Maine; the Maine Plunge in Portland, Maine; the Wachusett Plunge in Wachusett Mountain, Massachusettes; Joey’s Plunge in Boston, Massachusetts; Colin’s Crew Plunge in West Haven, CT; Auldwood Polar Bear Plunge in Stamford, CT; Long Island Plunge in Amityville, NY; AJ’s New Jersey Plunge in Long Branch, NJ; and the Virginia Plunge in Reston, VA.
In Los Angeles the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center will hold its 111h annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim on Sunday, January 1, 2012. The chilly swim is open to anyone age eight or older. Swimmers will get a certificate of participation at the free event and will enjoy refreshments and a bonfire that will warm them up after their frosty swim. The aquatic center has a 1.5-acre manmade swim lake and is located at 11798 Foothill Blvd., in the Lake View Terrace area of the northeast San Fernando Valley.
The La Jolla Cove Swim Club sponsors a polar bear swim every January 1st as well. Held on the La Jolla Shores in California, these polar bears enjoy 50 degree temps for their swim.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department holds a polar bear plunge each year at the Matthews Beach Park. This coming year, 2012, will be the 10th year running – well, swimming!
A Polar Plunge kicks off the Winter Carnival in Lake George, NY. The plunge will take place at Shephard’s Park Beach. The Carnival is held every weekend through February.
The Special Olympics holds several Polar Bear Plunges in Pennsylvania. Depending on the location, your local plunge could be December, January or February. In Harrisburg and Wrightsville, plungers will brave the Susquehanna River on Saturday, February 4, 2012.
The Maryland State Police will hold their 16th Annual MSP Polar Bear Plunge in the Chesapeake Bay on January 28, 2012. The event is held in the Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis and supports the Special Olympics. The event is held in conjunction with the annual PlungeFest, a day long event. Plungefest 2012 features a large heated Festival tent with great live music and entertainment, local and national vendor booths, Plunge Food Court, giant sand sculpture, a “Kids Zone” complete with face painting, games, inflatable fun and more.
Minnesota law enforcement join together to sponsor several local Polar Bear Plunges that runs from January through March. Their proceeds benefit the Special Olympics as well.
This is only a small listing of polar bear swims, as they are held numerous places. Many benefit a specific cause. Some are simply community events. Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department if you are interested in one not listed.
If you plan on participating be sure to bring some warm clothes for afterwards. Bring a friend with a camera. Do not drink alcohol as it will not warm you up but rather expedite hypothermia. Check with your local plunge to see if there are any specific requirements for your locations, for example old shoes or swim shoes may be required.