Every year people ask me, “Ned, are you going to do the New Years Polar Bear Plunge?”
And every year I give the same answer: Heck, no! I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like the beach, and I especially don’t like cold beaches!
But there are a number of insane New Yorkers who engage in this sick form of self-inflicted torture. That number is around 3,000. That’s the amount of people who attended this year’s Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day swim.
We didn’t have the fortune of witnessing the icy plunge this year. Luckily, Sheepshead Bites reader (and operator of the spectacular Castles Made of Sand blog) did, and sent in the photos with the following write-up:
This was the second year that I have gone to the event with my husband and daughter as spectators. It is a fun thing to do with a 7-year-old. Lots of families come out both to swim and to watch. Comparing the photos of the two years, there were just more people there this year. People wear costumes and are generally silly. Best costumes I didn’t get pictures of: Metro card man wearing an outfit made of metro cards and three middle aged people dressed in diapers as New Year’s babies. My favorite though was the two guys, one dressed as an Arab and the other as a Jew, with the sign Occupy Peace. So hopeful.
As for the swim itself while I have no desire to ever do it myself the thrill is catching. People scream, yell and carry on.
My friend, Melinda Beck, belongs to the Polar Bear Club and swims every year with a thermometer on her bathing suit. She emailed me that the air was 50 degrees and the water 45. So it was exceptionally warm, which might account for the crowds.
The event isn’t all about the exhilaration of a cold swim, either. It raised more than $37,000 for Camp Sunshine, a getaway for children with life-threatening diseases and their families.