The Polar Bear Club in Coney Island meets regularly in the winter but the big event is New Year’s Day. They swim in the ocean New Year’s Day. Without research I wrongly thought there were a dozen in the club. Maybe 150 went swimming at 1pm and another 1000 watched. Ages ranged from tots to senior citizens. The crowd rose last year that this year there was a lineup and you had to get wrist bands.
There was a great dance on the boardwalk with swimmers and spectators in costumes. Costumes ranged from Cleopatra, a duck, Popeye to pirates.
One photographer in the water a little bit had hefty bags on her pants. Another one waist high in the water had a full scuba gear outfit. It was 34 degrees on land and there were warming areas. The swimmers ran from the boardwalk to the ocean through a lane with crowds on the sidelines cheering them on.
There is a new affordable boardwalk restaurant called Tom’s Coney Island. Ruby’s Bar was lively. A group from the Mermaid Parade was there and they had a table of free food and champagne. On the boardwalk Whatsup beverage was given out for free. There was a great DJ on the boardwalk and a lot of people dancing as the event went on past 3 hours.
The Polar Bear Club has been around for 108 year. Members and other clubs were raising money for Sandy relief efforts. The area was badly flooded by the late October storm. Money raised from the swim will go to a non-profit called “Coney Recovers”. Every year, the Polar Bears Club raises money for Camp Sunshine, an organization that provides outdoor adventures for children with life-threatening diseases.
Channel 7, 12, the Huffington Post and more covered the event. The Ice Breakers try to raise awareness of water pollution. There is a rumor that borough President Marty Markowitz went for a swim bus has not been confirmed as of yet. Police, Fire and boats were in the area. For more photos and ones with reaction when in the water see Flickr.
Channel 7 Eyewitness News