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Posts Tagged ‘Coney ISland Polar Bear Swim’

Formal Pose, Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club at New Year's Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Formal Pose, Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. January 1, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day Swim is wacky fun, but they’re Freezin’ for a Reason. Support a Bear and make a pledge now. According to the Bears’ website, “There is no fee for swimmers or observers but we encourage all participants to make a voluntary donation to our partner Camp Sunshine.” The Coney Island Plunge has already raised more than $20,000!

On January 1, 2010, more than one thousand people took the plunge, including about 140 members of the Polar Bear Club (ATZ, “By the Numbers: Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2010,” January 8, 2010). Tomorrow’s dip in the ocean is at 1 pm sharp, but get there early for festivities on the Boardwalk. You can register, pledge and buy Polar Bear Tee’s on the Boardwalk from 11 am.

Ruby's Bar

Ruby

On New Year’s Day Ruby’s Bar & Grill will be the place to raise a toast to the New Year and to the real Coney Island. If you missed the last of the “Last Call” party/protests at Ruby’s in November, tomorrow may be your final last chance to have a drink at Ruby’s. Of course, we hope not. Ruby’s & the other evicted Boardwalk businesses made Curbed’s 2010 List of Threatened Neighborhood Places that are not dead yet. What to do? Take a cue from the folks who showed up at November 6th’s Rally, Party and Last Call and bring along a hand-made sign. Ruby’s will open at 10:30 am. Live music from 12:30 till around 4 pm.

American History

American History Vanishing Before My Eyes. Coney Island Boardwalk, November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Are you ready for the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day plunge? Whether you plan to swim or spectate, this high-spirited vid of today’s snowy Sunday swim should put you in the mood. “Water temp 40 outside is 24. Coney expecting 13″ of snow – the bears go for a dip at the start of the snowstorm,” says Rubyshost, who is a Polar Bear and shot the video both in and out of the water.

The Coney Island Polar Bears swim at 1 pm every Sunday from November through April. The club has 140 regular members, but the New Year’s Day event attracts hundreds of first timers. Last year about 1,000 swimmers participated, said Polar Bear president Dennis Thomas. The world-famous event is a fundraiser to benefit Camp Sunshine. Participants are requested to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges. The 2010 swim raised over $23,000 for the retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses. To register for the 2011 New Year’s Day Plunge or sponsor a swimmer, visit www.freezinforareason.com.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club, New Year’s Day Plunge, January 1, 2011 at 1 pm. Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island


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February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

January 8, 2010: By the Numbers: Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2010

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The crowd gets bigger every year at the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Club Swim in Coney Island. Exactly how many Bears and Cubs took the plunge on Jan 1, 2010? How many people were spectating? How much did the charity event raise for Camp Sunshine? (Yep, you can still mail in a check.) Dennis Thomas, the President of the the Coney Island Polar Bears, gave us an update and analysis of the increasingly popular event’s stellar stats. Photos courtesy of Bruce Handy/Pablo 57’s “Coney, January 1, 2010 Polar Bear Plunge” set…

Lou Young of CBS News and Coney Island Polar Bear Club President Dennis Thomas. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Lou Young of CBS News interviewing Coney Island Polar Bear Club President Dennis Thomas. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

ATZ: Do you know how many people “did it” on January 1st vs last year’s swim? And how many regular members of the Polar Bear Club participated vs. how many swim on a typical Sunday

Thomas: I believe there were over 1000 swimmers this New Year’s. I don’t have any numbers for last year, but it was brutally cold last year and the crowd felt noticeably larger than last year. We have about 140 full-time members in the club. At our weekly swims we have been averaging 80-90 swimmers. I think we had more than 100 there on New Year’s.

Formal Pose, Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club at New Year's Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Formal Pose, Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

ATZ: what are the reasons for the event growing every year? Was this year’s larger crowd due to the 41 degree air temp?

Thomas: I’m not sure why the event is growing. Part of it is just word of mouth. People went last year, told their friends who said, yeah I want to do that next year. Part of it is that Coney Island has been in the press so much lately that it is going through its own revival regardless of the development plans. Crowds out there are getting bigger for all events the past 2 years.

Part of it is our club seems to have a larger media presence than in the past and things like our website make us much easier to find than say, 10 years ago. And somehow we are less portrayed as those idiots on the beach that cause network newscasters to chuckle and shake their heads after a 10 second clip before the weather report. The New Year’s Swim is basically free and open to the public, that might be a draw in the current economy as well. I think it’s all these things that explains the larger crowds.

Huge Crowd at New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Huge Crowd at New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

ATZ: How many spectators were there? And how many people involved with staffing the event including crowd control and safety? We noticed Chuck Reichenthal (District Manager of CB 13) in some pix.

Thomas: Again, it’s hard to estimate the size of the crowds on the beach. I believe someone told me the Fire Dept. estimated 10,000 people. I can’t verify that, but I also don’t doubt it. The entire bay was filled with people. I’m not sure on the numbers of the safety teams but there were 2 police boats, 3 Fire Dept boats, numerous Fire Dept EMT teams, ambulance crews, water safety teams through CERT, 3 kayakers, and at least 5 lifeguards and countless volunteers from the Polar Bear Club.

ATZ: What are latest stats on how much money was raised for Camp Sunshine? People can still mail in checks, right?

Thomas: I don’t have final figures, but we raised somewhere around $28,000 this year, up from last year which in this economy is pretty decent. And yes, people can still make contributions.

Big Babies at New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Big Babies at New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

ATZ: Looking at the flickr pix by various photographers it seemed like more people were wearing costumes than in previous years. Maybe that’s just the sort of thing photographers tend to take more photos of? Or maybe there were just more people, more costumes? Do you have any comments or insight about that?

Thomas: The costume thing. Maybe it’s part of the Mermaid Parade spirit and the fact that it is after all Coney Island. We neither encourage nor discourage costumes. People just do that on their own. And it is a holiday, and a bit of an absurd activity. That must play a role in it.

Photo Op, New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Photo Op, New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club swims at 1 pm every Sunday from November through April. To join them as a guest, show up at the New York Aquarium Education Hall, on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm.

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January 3, 2011: Record 3,000 “Do It” at Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

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