14th annual Polar Bear Plunge set for Jan. 1 at Matthews Beach

polar bear plunge posterStart off the New Year with a splash!

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Meadowbrook Community Center Advisory Council are co-sponsoring the 14th annual Polar Bear Plunge at noon on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2016 at Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave. NE. Registration begins at 10 a.m., and the plunge starts at noon sharp.

A 2016 Commemorative Badge of Courage will be given to all heroic Polar Bear participants who immerse themselves neck-deep in the water. The patch will show the world that participants braved the frigid waters.

Warming refreshments will be served. While people wait for the plunge to kick off, there will be games, a photo booth, music and a t-shirt/sweatshirt vendor.

As in previous years, younger polar bears and anyone else who needs a little more room can take part in the Polar Cub Club part of the event immediately preceding the main plunge. For the truly hearty, double-dipping is allowed.

Seattle Parks and Recreation offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:

  • Make the plunge even more special by dressing up in a costume!
  • Come early, and carpool or take the bus (you can plan your trip at http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/).
  • If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend that you consult your healthcare professional before taking the Polar Bear Plunge. If you can’t go in the water, come and watch!
  • Don’t drink alcohol–it doesn’t warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Stay in the water for no longer than 15 minutes—you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Keep your outer clothing on until you’re ready to get in the water. After the plunge, remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

The Polar Bear Plunge was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area and has inspired other, similar events throughout the region. Janet Wilson, Aquatic Center Coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event on Jan. 1, 2003. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to more than 1,900 brave bears. Like the plunge on Facebook here.