New Year’s Day ‘Polar Plunge’ rasies money for sick kids

An ice gesture! New Year’s ‘Polar Plunge’ raises $ for sick kids

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

They’re freezin’ for a reason.

Come New Year’s Day some 2,500 hot-blooded swimmers will usher in 2017 by diving into the People’s Playground’s frigid shore for charity at the Polar Bear Club’s 113th annual New Year’s Day Plunge. The Jan. 1 dunk will raise cash for Camp Sunshine, a Maine retreat for sick children and their families, and will expose thrill-seeking Brooklynites hot-headed enough to brave the icy waters to a new level of intensity, according to the club’s president.

“There’s a sense of absolute intensity you don’t get in day-to-day life,” said Dennis Thomas. “There’s a lot of stress in the city, but when you go into the water, you’re just feeling the intensity of the moment. You physically can’t think about rent, or bills, or rush hour — just the water.”

Steel-nerved swimmers assemble on the Boardwalk each year — some clad in polar bear suits and dressed as King Neptune and Baby New Year. Participants charge down the beach in waves of 500, dunk themselves in the frigid sea, weather the winter waters for as long as they can bear, and proudly dash out after a few minutes — bragging rights in tow.

But for those who are too scared — or too smart — to take the plunge, you can just dip a toe in the “Chicken Dip.”

And if being submerged in near-freezing water is more your speed, join the club for its weekly plunges — which draws up to 100 cold-ocean cannonballers on Sundays between November and April — and become a part of Coney’s living history, said Thomas.

“Coney Island historically has been the center of weirdness in the universe, and we’ve realized we’re contributing to the history here,” he said. “We’ve been around longer than the Wonder Wheel, longer than the Cyclone — we’re the oldest living landmark, and people really embrace that.”

Organizers say the club’s popularity has surged in recent years, and attendance on New Year’s day has swollen as a result. These days, the dip can get a little chaotic, but preparation is a shivering swimmer’s best hope for success.

There’s no locker space — so either bring a friend to watch your gear, or throw caution to the wind and leave it on the beach.

Participants will want to bring a pair of old sneakers to wade through the wintry waves — Thomas suggests neoprene boots — as well as a towel and plenty of warm clothes to bundle up in once you emerge.

Afterwards, stay in the nabe for some post-plunge festivities, including after-parties at the Coney Island Brewery and the Steeplecase Beergarden, and freaky performances at Sideshows by the Seashore. Deno’s Wonder Wheel will be up and running — weather permitting — with half the proceeds going to Camp Sunshine. All registered swimmers also get free admission to the New York Aquarium.

Polar Bears New Year’s Day Plunge (Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Jan. 1 at 1 pm. All swimmers must register in advance. Free.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Matt from Clinton Hill says:
Dec. 28, 2016, 10:43 am
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Great! If only President-elect Donald Trump would join in this worthy cause! He should also go into the ocean and stick his head in and keep it there!
Dec. 30, 2016, 11:03 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: