Over the past few years, I've made a hardy effort to take the polar bear plunge on New Year's Day. Even after a riotous NYE, the plunge proves to be refreshing and rather hangover-curing. The great thing about this event is that you can really make it your own. One year I wasn't near a body of water, so off to the hotel pool I went. The act of plunging is oddly ritualistic; much like that first cup of coffee in the morning, it brings you a sense of comfort. Once you've done it, you feel the need for continuity, so you do it again (mostly, because if you don't do it, you feel like a chicken). After the second time, there's no going back--January 1st will always mean plunging. It will always mean rolling out of bed despite any wooziness, putting on your suit and raggedy clothes, and joining the family of like-minded (or, to some, crazy-minded) people who find joy in dipping their bare skin into winter's chilly waters. It's a way of life now; the next step is acceptance.
One of the largest plunges in the Seattle area takes place at Matthews Beach Park at Lake Washington. Seattle Parks and Recreation sponsors the event, which gives it a nice organized feel. The most difficult part about the day isn't jumping into the nearly freezing waters, it's the anticipation leading up to the jump. Oh, my, it's as unnerving as the slow and torturous ascension to the steepest part of the roller coaster.
But, it’s all worth it. The minute the announcer says “GO!” all you hear is screaming, laughing, splashing, and a fair share of curse words. You forget all about the lead up and the cold and your hypothermic toes. It’s fantastic.
Of course, the adorable patch you get at the end is just the cherry on top.
If you didn't get a chance to plunge on the 1st, you're in luck. The Special Olympics of Washington is holding their annual plunge (organized by local law enforcement agencies) at Golden Gardens Park on February 1st. This event is a fundraiser, so in order to have the opportunity to plunge, you should raise at least $75. Surely you won't regret supporting such a worthy cause and being a part of this fun event!