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Polar Bear Dip to kick off New Year

Posted: December 28, 2012 - 1:02am

Start the New Year invigorated, refreshed and quite possibly a bit chilly at the 21st annual Polar Bear Dip happening at 1 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, Jan. 1 at Auke Village Recreation Area.

Event organizer Monika Bethers, who has participated in the event for 15 years, said this year’s dip will be much like year’s past and will happen rain, shine or snow. Folks interested in participating should meet at the main shelter before 1 p.m. and bring sandals or shoes, a towel and a set of dry clothes. She said a countdown will begin as they close in on the start time.

For Bethers, the event has become an annual endeavor for her and a group of girlfriends.

“At first, it was just a way to, well, ‘shake off the cobwebs’ from the night before,” she said.

But now, it’s become tradition and one that hundreds of people participate in every year, said the 30-year-old Juneauite.

Bethers said it began when a group of locals decided to get a little “crazy” one day after skiing. After that, it stuck and has become “just a fun, random thing to do,” she said.

The event is free and open to the public. Bethers said participants can bring firewood to help keep the fire going and carpooling is recommended.

“Some people wear costumes,” she said. “Or, have worn costumes in the past.”

Bethers also said there’s occasionally people who show up late, and have to jump on their own.

“And there’s some who even double dip,” she said.

Whether or not plunging into freezing ocean water in the dead of winter is truly fun, is certainly up for debate. One thing is certain, however, the Polar Bear Dip is sure to liven up a brand new year.

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