Coronavirus Update New York City: Coney Island cancels annual polar bear plunge due to COVID pandemic

Coronavirus update for NYC
CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- With ongoing concerns regarding mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club announced their decision to cancel what would have been the 117th annual tradition of the New Year's Day plunge.

"While we are deeply disappointed that our great New Year's tradition will not be taking place in 2021, we know this is the right decision to make for the health and safety of our members, thousands of attendees, and tens of thousands of spectators who show up for this event every January 1st," said Dennis Thomas, President of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. "We will be back bigger and stronger in 2022. Until then, we urge all our former and future participants to help us continue to support non-profits in the Coney Island community by clicking on the link below."

Officials say in an effort to keep the inspiration behind the event possible, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club and the Alliance for Coney Island have opened a fundraising platform in hopes that its dedicated plungers will still consider donating to help the Coney Island community this holiday season.

"While supporters of Coney Island may not be able to plunge into the Mighty Atlantic this year, they can show their commitment by purchasing 2021 Coney Island Polar Bear memorabilia and making a donation to www.PolarBearClub.org to help ensure the growth and livelihood of this iconic destination and neighborhood," the press release read.

Despite freezing temperatures last year, The Coney Island Polar Bear Club says the plunge helped raise over $85,000 which benefited local community nonprofits like the New York Aquarium, the Coney Island History Project, Coney Island USA and more.

Raised funds will help support educational programming, local cultural institutions and free public events such as Friday Night Fireworks, as well as assist small businesses in the Coney Island community as they cope with the unprecedented issues they are facing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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