What The Heck is the Polar Bear Plunge ?
Sea Isle City, NJ hosts a Polar Bear Plunge every year in February. You need a strange combination of ingredients to have a successful plunge. You Need:
1. A town or city with some kind of body of water that people can jump into. Lakes, ponds, the ocean, etc
2. That area needs to experience very cold temperatures at least part of the year.
3. A bunch of people crazy, insane, sick enough to want to jump into those waters at bitter cold temperatures and typically willing to pay a fee to do so as well. Oh yeah, these guys also tend to sign a waiver bascially saying, "Yeah, hypothermia is not a problem for me."
4. A cult of people, like me, who do not go into the water but love to watch everyone jump in.
So, People Jump in? That's all That Happens?
No! I mean, 'yes' people jump in the water, in bathing suits and come out all pink and shivering while others (like me) watch in warm winter clothing but 'no' that is not all that happens. Afterward, the real festival begins. You need to be a true reveller to enjoy SIC Polar Plunge. All the watering holes are open and people drink, eat and party in delight all night long.
There is also a terrific costume contest held prior to everyone jumping into the water. You must be one of the folks registered to jump into the water to dress up and compete in the costume contest.
What Kind of People Go To The Plunge
Besides watching everyone jump into the ice cold ocean the rest of the festivities is pretty much a 21 year old an over event. That said, the age range can go from 21 to 121 years old. Big age range. I'm in my 40's and I feel pretty comfortable at the plunge, especially during the afternoon when that is likely the median age range. As the event gets later it is more a crowd in their twenties.
I'd say about 50,000 people attend the event. I'll venture to say 'only' 2000-3000 actually go into the water. The rest are their for the party. Don't believe me? Wait until the a couple weeks before The Plunge and then try renting a house anywhere in Sea Isle for that weekend. You'll have a hard time getting one.
In my years of going to Sea Isle during the weekend's in the summer, I find that a large percentage of attendees (swimmers and non swimmers alike) consist of especially hard-core, devoted SIC summer renters. If you've been weekending in Sea Isle during the summer, you'll likely see the same friends at the Polar Bear.
When is The plunge?
Usually the 3rd weekend in February. I wrote a brief post on that date here
When Does it Start?
Historically, the plunge happens at 2:00 then the party begins and doesn't stop until late at night.
Didn't Someone Tragically Die at The Polar Bear Plunge?
Yes, and this is one of the saddest subjects I've ever added to a blog post. A woman named Tracy Hottenstien from Conshocken PA passed away in February, 2009 during this event. She did not die from the actual 'plunge' portion of this event. Her death was ruled an accident due to intoxication and hypothermia that occurred sometime outside, near the marinas, during the evening. Some suspect she was murdered, though it does not appear there is any evidence supporting that claim. If you know of any details of her passing, please contact the Sea Isle City Police Department. I did not know Tracy but I've heard nothing but good things about her so if you know of anything, please let the authorities know.
Have Fun and Be Careful
The Polar Bear plunge is great fun and a big part of Sea Isle's winter culture. Sea Isle is a very safe town but always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Be careful how much you drink and never drink and drive. You owe it to yourself and others to have a good time, but more importantly, to be safe and healthy.
More Great Posts on Sea Isle City Summer Shore by TurtleDog
When The Party Stops and The Family Fun Begins, Will My Kids Like Sea Isle City?
I Gotta Go! Where Are The Public Restrooms in SIC ?