• February 20, 2020

Tens of thousands in Sea Isle City for Polar Bear Plunge - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Tens of thousands in Sea Isle City for Polar Bear Plunge

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Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 9:36 am

SEA ISLE CITY – A mid-February Saturday in Sea Isle City, with temperatures in the 40s, looked more like a July weekend, according to Katherine Custer, Sea Isle City’s director of community services and public information officer. 

“You looked up and down the block and virtually every house seemed to have someone in it,” she said. 

The summer-like crowds also spent time on the beach and enjoyed a swim in the ocean last weekend. 

That’s where the similarities to a typical summer weekend ended. 

The crowds came for the 25th annual Polar Bear Plunge Weekend which was held from Friday, Feb. 15., to Sunday, Feb. 17. 

The whimsical weekend, which involves thousands of people dressing in costumes and running into the Atlantic Ocean, was started by the late Irene Jameson, according to a Sea Isle City newsletter. 

Jameson was 70 when she took her first plunge. Among the people dressed up for the plunge was a group with wigs and white outfits to look like Jameson.

The weekend events began on Feb. 15, with the crowning of the Polar Bear Royal Family. 

On Saturday, a costume contest was held before the weekend’s main event – the plunge – was held on the beach.

Custer said that more than 2,100 people registered for the plunge.  Those who registered ran in from the official plunge zone, on the JFK Boulevard beach.

Although Custer said it is “very hard to gauge” the number of people who watched the spectacle, she said that it was clearly tens of thousands of people. 

Some years, the crowds are upwards of 50,000 to 75,000, according to Custer. 

“This was one of our busiest years for the Polar Bear Plunge,” she said. 

Saturday’s weather was ideal for plunging, according to Custer; it was cloudy, but it was not too cold and temperatures were in the 40s.

For the winter swim, one group dressed as different animals on Noah’s Ark.

The Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Run-Walk for Autism and the Polar Bear Corn Hole Tournament finished off the weekend on Sunday, Feb. 17. 

According to information from the Polar Bear Run-Walk website, the proceeds from the event benefit Autism Speaks, special services schools, autism support groups, and families of special needs children.  The corn hole tournament also supports autism.  

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