With a history starting in 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is an institution. Their annual new years dive, the coney island polar bear plunge, attracts more people every year. Even without snow on the beach, taking a dive at 33ºF (that’s about 1ºC), is cold, really cold.
Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club swim in the Atlantic Ocean weekly, but on the first day of the year, they encourage everyone to join . This year, thousands of people felt brave enough to join the swim. Over 60,000 where there to watch, according to an organizer I spoke after the event. While there is no entrance fee, participants (and spectators) are asked to make a $20 donation to Camp Sunshine (via freezinforareason.com). The club confirmed they had registered 2500 participants this year, and had raised $70,000. As these are mainly amateur polar bears, unkown to the effect this cold would have, both FDNY and NYPD were present to intervene when needed: FDNY sent the 246 engine and 169 ladder from Brighton Beach, and had paramedics standing by. The EMS teams, the dive teams and boats of the NYPD patrolled the sea side.
Coney Island is a beach front in the south of Brooklyn, NY. Famous in summer for its attractions, it’s actually pretty quiet in winter, except for this day of course. The beach connects to the NY subway system and is within 45 minutes of Manhattan.
More images of the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge 2015 can be found in my portfolio.