In Asbury Park, New Jersey, a large crowd brought in the New Year in a rather unconventional manner. Wearing bathing suits, costumes, and even carrying flags with them, hundreds of enthusiastic participants ran into the freezing ocean. It was all in good fun. The Sons of Ireland Polar Bear Plunge is one version of the international event that occurs every year, where participants take the "plunge" in the the freezing water. The event is usually associated with charity in the United States, however in Canada, the event is a tradition for bringing in the New Year.
Sean Clifford, 42, of Rumson is a co-founder of the Sons of Ireland Program and one of the very first plungers to participate in the New Jersey-based charity event. Says Clifford, "“When we first started the plunge, it was only 15 of us that did it in Sea Bright. [We] just decided to start a tradition with a group of friends and we decided to do it on New Year’s Day.”
It isn't just the feel good factor of giving money to those in need that inspires spectators and participants since then.
“It was just participation of something cool with a bunch of people,” said Gene Boyle. The 57-year-old has participated in the event an unbelievable five times. Being a veteran of the event, he pretty much knew what to anticipate.
“I expected the water to be cold and just as invigorating as it was."
Polar Bear Plunge is a popular event in various locations in North America that continues to grow in popularity each year. There were plunges in locations ranging from Vancouver, Canada to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Here is a video of the Polar Bear Plunge event that took place in Sheboygan, WI:
Thousands of people participated and from the looks of it had a great deal of fun. Some might shake their heads and figure it's better to stay warm, dry, and indoors on a day like today. But for the daring, nothing says "Happy New Year" like a departure from the norm and creating fun memories. Diving into freezing waters in your underwear? Definitely something that will be remembered for a long time.
Image via Sheboygan Daily Youtube