Polar bear plunges go on despite Arctic blast

Monday, January 01, 2018 05:43PM
The frigid temperatures did not faze the Coney Island Polar Bear club and others who braved sub-zero wind chills to run into the ocean on New Year's Day.


CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn - The frigid temperatures did not faze the Coney Island Polar Bear club and others who braved sub-zero wind chills to run into the ocean on New Year's Day.

Hundreds of people took part Monday in Coney Island's annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge. Hundreds of others were on hand to cheer the brave souls as they splashed into the Atlantic Ocean.


Temperatures hovered at about 17 degrees (-8 Celsius) for the annual tradition that began in 1903.

Some dressed in dinosaur or penguin outfits. Others donned underwear or bathing suits.

For 65-year-old Louie Forte of Brooklyn, it was his seventh plunge into the icy waters. He said this was his coldest year yet.

Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, estimated participation was lower than last year because of the cold. Last year, swimmers had a 50-degree (10 degrees Celsius) day.

The club says this year's plunge is to raise funds for the Coney Island community to create a more sustainable and cleaner environment as well as improve quality of life for residents.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, around 100 plungers ran into the ocean at an event sponsored by East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad that raises money for East Hampton food pantries.

Polar bears take the plunge in East Hampton

The air temperature was 18 degrees at the time of this event, with wind chills in the single digits.

The water temperature was actually warmer in both places: A balmy 37 degrees.

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