Over 2,500 hale and hardy swimmers challenged the elements and plunged into the frigid waters at Coney Island for the annual New Year’s Day ritual which is sponsored by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.
Locally, three well known area residents who are veterans of the icy dip included Larry Stelter, a longtime member of the Polar Bears, who is a member of Community Board 10, an author and past first vice president of the Bay Ridge Historical Society; Tom McCarthy, the current president of the BRHS, a bank executive and who recently ran his 16th New York City Marathon; and prominent attorney Arthur Aidala, the past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, a former Kings County assistant district attorney, and a frequent commentator on radio and TV. Aidala has been holding fundraisers for a possible political campaign, but has not yet announced what position he is interested in running for, though some people have speculated that he is interested in being Brooklyn district attorney or New York State attorney general.
Current association leaders and officers include President Bob Howe, First Vice President Jay Sessa, Second Vice President Wade Jabour, Secretary Lloyd Berg, Co-treasurers Brian Chin and Victor Taliaferro, Corresponding Secretary Rhea McCone and Recording Secretary Leigh Holliday.
McDonald, who was shot three times in Central Park by a teenager back in 1986, was here in Bay Ridge last November to address the students at St. Patrick Catholic Academy regarding safety, bullying, forgiveness, peace and respect for parents and one another.