2018 Polar Bear Plunge
What better way to ring in the New Year than by taking a dip in freezing water? It’s that time of year again, the Polar Bear Plunge. Throughout the winter season, people all over the country, from sea-to-shining-sea, brave the frigid waters to participate in these events. For some it’s a tradition, for many others, though, it’s much more than that; it’s about raising money for charity and organizations, from the Special Olympics to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Let’s dive in to see what the polar plunge is all about:
- History – Polar Bear Plunges have a relatively long history in the United States. There are many “polar bear clubs” throughout the country that host these winter events in their respective regions and communities. The title of Oldest Club in this category goes to the L Street Brownies of South Boston, having formed in 1902. However, they did not take their first New Year’s Day plunge until 1904. The L Street Brownies take their annual plunge to promote health, fun, and friendship.
- Science and sentiment – Likely introduced by European settlers and immigrants, swimming in cold water may have a variety of benefits on the body. They believed that a swim followed by a sauna session was good for one’s health. What’s more, the belief still holds true that swimming in the winter may actually strengthen one’s immune system.
- What’s different this year – Due to record-breaking frigid temperatures this 2017-18 winter season, some polar plunge events have been postponed or cancelled. But not Boston’s! Boston did, however, see a drop in the number of participants this year: only about 200 people made the plunge, as compared to last year’s roughly 400. The event’s organizer, Dan Monahan, had this to say about the plunge: “We’re stubborn people in Boston. We’re about tradition. Ok, so it’s cold. You can’t let it beat you. We’re mentally tough people. This is hardcore.” Monahan expertly captures Boston’s sentiment and attitude toward anything thrown our way.
For 114 years now, the plunge has taken place. No matter the weather, loyal and active participants take a dip in freezing water in name of charity. Will you take the plunge next year and, if so, what will you do it for?
This post was written by Sperling