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Posts Tagged ‘Freezin for a Reason’

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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After the January 1st Coney Island Polar Bear Club Swim, the Bears and Cubs and everyone else who’d come to celebrate New Year’s Day on the Beach and Boardwalk gathered in and around Ruby’s Bar. Here are a few pix of Coney Island luminaries, friends, strangers and their pets enjoying the occasion and the warmish weather.

Donny Vomit, New Year's Day Swim

Donny Vomit, MC and performer extraordinaire with the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, strides purposefully down the Boardwalk accompanied by burlesque dancer Legs Malone. Donny posted a photo diary of his third annual New Year’s Day Swim on his always engaging blog: “The water was cold but the walk back was the painful part,” he writes. “Feet were too cold to jam into the shoes so my little piggies took a beating on the way back.”

Dianna Carlin & Raja Azar

Coney Island entrepreneur Dianna Carlin aka Lola Staar and Raja Azar of Jollyship the Whiz-Bang were wearing the most adorable matching hats. The top of the Parachute Jump appears to be part of Lola’s hat! Is that freaky or what? Dianna is looking forward to a lease from the City in February 2010 for the Boardwalk spot next to Ruby’s where the Lola Staar Boutique thrived until Thor Equities evicted her in 2008. Lola’s Dreamland Roller Rink in the Childs Building on the Boardwalk at 21st Street will open for its third season in the spring.

New Year's Day dogs in Coney Island

Bow-wow! New Year’s Day doggies all dolled up for a stroll apres the Polar Bear Swim. ATZ arrived too late to see Target the famously friendly Coney Island Arcade Cat take a little walk on the Boardwalk. Among the friends with whom we exchanged New Year’s greetings in front of Ruby’s were Target’s owner, Manny Cohen of Coney Island Arcade; Stan Fox, Coney Island Arcade and the Coney Island History Project; Mark Blumenthal and Ruth Magwood of the Cyclone Roller Coaster; Benny Harrison, Jones Walk game operator; Coney Island photographers and ATZ contributors Bruce Handy and Norman Blake; and photographer Lou Dembrow of the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Happy New Year Everyone! Happy New Year to Coney Island!

Outside Ruby's Bar on New Year's Day

Hanging out at Ruby’s Bar & Grill is both a summertime must and a New Year’s Day tradition. The joint was jumpin, inside and out, with a live band performing on the Boardwalk. Wish we hadn’t just missed the photo op with Ruby’s owner Mike Sarrel after he got back from a good luck dip in the ocean. Here’s to another great season at Coney Island’s oldest bar on the Boardwalk!

Dancing on the Boardwalk

Summer or winter, dancing on the Boardwalk is a Coney Island tradition, too. The contrast between this guy’s wacky costume and the gal’s everyday attire is what caught our eye.

Somebody's Grandma..wish she were mine

When we got to Ruby’s, the first person we noticed was somebody’s wonderful Grandma (wish she were ours) sitting at a table by herself watching their stuff. She was wearing a pair of glittery gold 2010 specs. Do you think she would mind if we adopted her as ATZ’s honorary Grandma of New Year’s Day?

Sneakers Parked at Shoot the Freak

Wet sneakers parked at Shoot the Freak apres swim while their owners party at Ruby’s. Congrats to all the Bears and cheers to all who contributed to Freezin’ for a Reason. More than $27,000 was raised by the Coney Island Polar Bears for Camp Sunshine. There’s still time to send in a check!

Coney Island Polar Bear John D'Aquino

John D’Aquino was part of the dive team that raised the century-old Dreamland Bell from the ocean this summer. John, who swam today with his girlfriend Jamie Segschneider, has been a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club for a decade. If you missed the New Year’s Day Plunge, there’s always next weekend. The oldest cold-water bathing club in the U.S. goes for a dip in the Atlantic at 1 pm every Sunday from November through April. See you on the Beach!

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December 4, 2009: Photo of the Day: Let It Snow! in Coney Island

October 30, 2009: Nov 1: Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s First Swim of the Season!

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

June 2, 2009: Coney Island is Alive and Kicking in 2009 Photo of the Day: Dusk on the Boardwalk

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