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Polar Plunge: Sanibel dares brave souls to push their limits on Jan. 1

By Staff | Dec 23, 2015

It was a “frigid” jump during the 2015 Polar Plunge on Sanibel. PHOTO PROVIDED

As winter temperatures plunge well below the 70-degree mark and the Gulf of Mexico waters become their most frigid, it’s the perfect time to hold the 16th Annual National Polar Bear Club “Polar Plunge” at Tarpon Bay Beach on Sanibel at the “Crack of noon” Jan. 1.

The Plunge will be Friday, Jan. 1, with the Sanibel-Captiva Chapter of the National Polar Bear Club hosting its annual meeting for brave plungers.

“When we started this in 2001, we started with 29 participating,” said Papa Bear John Carney. “We had around 300 the last several years. It’s all dependent on the weather, if it’s cold and rainy, we don’t attract as many. But the ones who do show up, we make the best of it.”

There is parking for 89 cars available at the city lot. Don’t forget to display your current new sticker or pay the parking fee.

The meeting will begin with the singing of the traditional Polar Bear anthem by the “Cubbies” (first -timers), “Juveniles”(one-time previous dippers) and seasoned “Adult” bears (those who took the plunge in previous years).

The Vikings crew has been a regular for the Jan. 1 Polar Plunge for the last several years. PHOTO PROVIDED

“There are many Polar Plunges around in the nation, but they don’t have their own anthems,” Carney added. “One year when it was warm, we brought in some bags of ice to add to the water.”

Following the anthem the Polar Bears will enter the icy Gulf waters backwards, facing the huge crowd of supporters, on-lookers, tourists, and “mice” (those who wished they had the courage to join in).

Following various bear-frolicking activities in the water and the traditional Polar Bear Group Huddle/Hug (a body-warming activity), all participants will receive a free membership card and a certificate suitable for framing.

There will also be an opportunity to sip from the giant Polar Bear champagne glass, have your picture taken in the infamous shell pith helmet and to engage in story-telling about your heroic experience with fellow Polar Bears from around the world.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. Remember to wear your bathing suit and bring a towel.

Chairs and coolers are optional. Come join your friends, family, neighbors, tourists, and other island characters for one helluva memorable activity.

It’s the only event going on at the crack-of-noon on New Year’s Day and it’s free.

Sign in and song sheets handed out starting at 11 am.

For more information about this “chilling” event, you may contact PapaBear (aka John Carney ) at 395-1767. This year he hopes to see all of his tried and true club members along with many new “plungers”.