Fortunately there was no snow on the ground this year for those daring to take a plunge at one of Langley’s polar bear swims to celebrate the start of the year on Jan. 1.
But despite a lack of snow, it was still a chilly day to take a dip in the Fraser River, as participants in the annual Fort Langley Polar Bear Swim were out of the water just as fast as they jumped in.
The temperature on the shore was around 4 degrees when swimmers started the countdown and went for the plunge.
“Let’s make it happen,” said first-time participant Shawn Dyer, minutes before jumping in.
“It’s great to burst into the New Year with a splash,” added Andy Crowder.
The plunge took place on the sandy shores of Brae Island Beach on the Bedford Channel.
Six years ago, Darian Kovacs, the founder of Jelly Marketing took a polar bear plunge with just a few friends, and the tradition has since grown on its own.
“There was just a few of us and then it evolved. The community is a really great community in Fort Langley. People got word of it and thought they’d join in as well. The more the merrier,” added Kovacs, who dressed for the plunge in a banana costume.
Compared to past swims where there’s been snow and ice, Kovacs added this year’s sunny afternoon swim was “gorgeous.”
The event is unofficial and casually organized, so there is no registration fees or sponsors.
Over in Aldergrove, brave adults and children also took a cold dip for the first annual Polar Bear Plunge held at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre’s Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience pool.
Guests took part in a brand new tradition of jumping into the outdoor wave pool in a simulated “ocean experience,” explained Township Recreation Centre Supervisor Nikole Longhi.
“It was a great success. We had over 80 people come and take the plunge,” added Longhi.
Swimmers in Aldergrove lingered a little longer than those in Fort Langley, as the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience opened their hot tub for the event, and served hot chocolate.
“It’s unique given the environment we’re in,” added Longhi.
The Township plans to make the Polar Bear Plunge an annual event.