New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunges Scheduled Across the U.S.

by  Elissa Garay | Dec 2, 2011
Polar Bears in Canada
Polar Bears in Canada / Cheryl Ramalho/iStock

Looking for a surefire remedy for that nasty New Year’s hangover? Try kicking off 2012 with an adrenaline-inducing "Polar Bear Plunge." Your little headache will be the last things on your mind when diving in on this fun-fueled – and oftentimes, freezing – tradition in cities across the U.S., whereby participants fling themselves into typically frigid bodies of water in the name of fund-raising or just plain fun-raising. In what’s become a New Year’s Day mainstay, we’ve rounded up a list of locales where you can opt to either sign up for the silliness yourself, or to ogle the “brrr-aaave” participants from a safe – and bundled up – distance:

Boulder, Colorado: The Boulder New Year’s Day Polar Plunge (pictured above) is now in its 29th year, and serves as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. Held in the city’s reservoir, the frozen waters average temps of just 39 degrees, but still manage to attract some 800 participants for a good cause. Noon;

Coney Island, New York: The Coney Island Polar Bear Club, formed in 1903, is one of the oldest winter bathing clubs in America. Watch them take off into the Atlantic on the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge – set off by the blow from a conch shell - from the Coney Island boardwalk. 1pm;

Savannah, Georgia: The Tybee Polar Plunge is shaping up to be one for the record books in 2012, when organizers try to entice Guinness World Records to count them as the largest gathering of people wearing swim caps. Cap up and cool off in this warmer-weather destination that makes the dip more "bear"able than others on this list. The event serves to raise funds for the Tybee Post Theater; meet up at South Beach on Tybee Island, near Savannah. Noon;

Newport, Rhode Island: Held since 1969, this 33rd annual group dip into the Atlantic at Easton’s Beach will serve to raise funds for the A Wish Come True foundation. Follow up with a food-and-drink-fueled after-party at the Atlantic Beach Club. Noon;

Jacksonport, Wisconsin: Set in the icy waters of Lake Michigan, air temperatures that are usually in the single digits and water temps measuring in at freezing ensure this branch's fearless participants earn the title of the bravest of the bunch. Noon;

Seattle: Head to Matthews Beach park, where nearly 1,000 brave “bears” will congregate for the 9th annual plunge into Lake Washington. Noon;

Lake George, New York: Some 850 participants are expected to dive into the barely-above-freezing Lake George waters from Shepard Park Beach. 2pm;

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