Chills and Thrills

Chills and Thrills

Chills and Thrills

How would you like to bring in the New Year? With cake and chocolate? Resolutions and good wishes? Well, there are some folks who dip into icy waters, just the way polar bears do!

We all have different ways of celebrating New Year’s Day. Most of us make  resolutions, telling ourselves to do certain things.  Quite a few of us stay awake on New Year’s Eve to herald the advent of the new year. Around the world, however, there are many daring souls in cold climes, who dip into icy waters on New Year’s Day every year in what is termed a ‘Polar Bear Swim’.
These brave souls jump into icy waters in a spirit of adventure – no they are not polar bears but humans! They have been looking forward to participate in this feat all year long. The Vancouver British Columbia Polar Bear Club is the oldest in the world. It was found in 1920 with just 10 members and, in its 91st year, in 2011 it attracted more than 2,000 members.

Its founding member was Peter Pantages and to this day the Pantages family is involved with the club and its Polar Bear Swim.

On January 1 each year there is a gala atmosphere at Vancouver’s English Bay Beach as participants line up to register for the ceremonial Polar Bear Dip and several other events which revolve around a particular theme.  Participants are given badges and buttons on registration.  At 2.30 pm the participants jump into the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The temperature at that time of the year is around 0 degrees Celsius, so some participants just take a token dip and jump out of the water. There are however, some hardy individuals who participate in a 100M swimming contest!

The whole event has a festive air, receives much publicity and is covered widely by the media. The ‘dippers’ are of all ages, and a few years ago there was a ‘bear’ in her nineties. The swimmers make a spectacular sight so the ‘party’ attracts several hundreds of tourists with their cameras.

On January 1, 2012, the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim will be marking its 92nd year and the usual competitors will enjoy their swim in the frigid waters at English Bay beach on the Pacific Ocean. All in all, it is a fun event and children look forward to it with great glee.