Thousands jump into Atlantic Ocean during New Year's polar plunge

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- You may not have thought about spending your New Year's Day jumping into the Atlantic Ocean, but thousands of people did as part of the 116th annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club's polar plunge.

Eyewitness News asked Gregory Rodolico, of Midwood, "Why do you enjoy this today?"

"I don't know, it's just a fun thing to do today. You know, I mean, what else are you going to do on New Year's Day, right?" he answered.

Artie Shaw, of Kingsbridge, said he's been doing the plunge for the past three years.

"I go in and come out right fast, you know, that's what you got to do," he said.

Samantha Clune, 19, of Flushing, said this was her first plunge, but she wasn't nervous.

"It might be the adrenaline," she laughed.

The water temperature was 68 degrees, not exactly cold, but the 40-degree air temperature made it feel colder.

The participants said they're happy it wasn't colder.
In years past, the temperature has been in the 20's or below.

"My father did this when I was about five years old, and I'll never forget it," said Harlem resident Jason Shannon. "It was snowing and I said to myself, I got a stupid idiot for a father going into the water with the stupid idiots of the Polar Bear and look at me today, today I'm doing the same thing," he laughed.

Money raised from the event goes to support several local nonprofits, including the New York Aquarium, Coney Island History Project and the Alliance for Coney Island.

Doc Golden with the Empire Triathlon Club is all about doing physical exercise and raising money for charities on New Year's Day.

She ran the midnight run in Central Park sponsored by the New York Road Runners and then participated in the polar plunge.

"Why do all this?" Kristin Thorne asked her.

"Why not?" she said.

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