Over 2,000 members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club (CIPBC) rang in the New Year with a dip into the icy Atlantic Ocean in Coney Island on Tuesday, January 1.
This year, CIPBC collaborated not only with seven-year-long partner, Camp Sunshine, but also with the Alliance of Coney Island’s initiative, “Coney Recovers,” in an effort to help raise funds for children with life-threatening illnesses and Hurricane Sandy victims, respectively.
“We’re pretty happy to be working with Coney Recovers,” said Dennis Thomas, president of CIPBC. “Not only were a lot of families hurt [by the storm], but the aquarium is shut down until May and so are a lot of businesses, so we really wanted to help out.”
The 2013 icy plunge met with astronomical success. “The crowd was unbelievable,” remarked Brooklynite and owner of Shea Communications, George Shea. “I was blown away. It was a dynamite event, and it will only get better in the years to come.”
The event was free of charge and open to the public; however, attendees were urged to make donations to Coney Recovers (www.coneyrecovers.org/polarplunge) and/or to Camp Sunshine (www.crowdrise.com/ConeyIslandPolarDip).
“We do hope for and encourage all of our attendees to donate,” Thomas noted.
The annual CIPBC Ocean Swim at Riegelmann Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue is one of New York’s oldest traditions, tracing back to the club’s inception in 1903.
“We’re the oldest living landmark,” Thomas mentioned. “We’ve been around longer than the Cyclone and the Parachute Jump.”
The club’s members swim in the Coney Island waters every Sunday from November through April. To learn more about CIPBC, log on to www.polarbearclub.org.