The Polar Bear Plunge, a tradition where people head to their favorite seaside oasis in the winter to jump in freezing cold water, is not something that was ever on my bucket list. However, every year, I am fascinated to see so many people decked out in swimsuits and costumes running into the bitter ocean while I’m happily curled up in leggings and a sweatshirt in my heated NYC apartment. Instead of sitting behind my computer wondering why this seems to be such a popular event, I decided to dive (!) a little deeper into this zany tradition.
Turns out the Polar Bear Plunge actually started in Canada in the early 1900s as a way to celebrate the New Year. Now, Polar Bear Plunges are celebrated around the world, including the Netherlands, the UK, and of course the United States, as a way to raise money for charitable causes. Below are some Jersey shore versions of the Polar Bear Plunge and what causes they support.
Sea Isle City, NJ:
Sea Isle City, NJ is celebrating their 2017 Polar Bear Weekend from February 17th until February 19th. Included in the weekend is a costume contest followed by the plunge followed by a post-plunge party. There’s also a 5K run and fun walk supporting Autism, plus a cornhole tournament.
The Wildwoods, NJ:
The Wildwoods hosted their annual Polar Bear Plunge on January 14th and raised over $390,000 to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey. There were 1,118 brave plungers who were required to raise at least $100 in pledges while donations were accepted onsite.
Long Beach Island, NJ:
LBI hosted their Super Plunge on February 5th with a “warm-up party” after including free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. All proceeds went to benefit the St. Francis Community Center, which offers programs and services meeting the needs of residents of Ocean County, and Southern Regional High School Swim Teams.
Asbury Park, NJ:
Asbury Park celebrates their Sons of Ireland plunge every New Year’s Day with roughly 1,000 participants and 3,000 spectators. Every year, the organization selects a different beneficiary to receive the money raised. This year, Shore House, an organization that aids adults with mental illness, and Stephy’s Place, a support center for people facing loss, were the recipients of the donations.