It’s almost time to head into the ice cold surf to help raise money for the Coney Island community.
The Polar Bear Plunge, a historic, time-honored tradition, is now celebrating its 115th year, and it’s almost time to grit your teeth and sign up for all the freezing fun.
The plunge, taking place on January 1, is a free event; however, individuals and teams must register to participate and are encouraged to fundraise for the cause. Walk-up registrants are welcome and are asked to arrive early, as on-site registration will open at 10 a.m., and the first wave of plungers starts at 1 p.m. sharp.
Last year, despite freezing temperatures, the plunge raised over $40,000. For 2019, the goal is to raise $80,000 which will all go toward local Coney Island nonprofits including the Alliance for Coney Island, the New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA, and the Coney Island History Project as well as other arts and community organizations. In the past decade, the club has raised over $500,000 to support charities.
The money helps fund free events such as Friday night fireworks, arts programs, and various environmental and educational programs. The money is also used to improve quality-of-life issues and support workforce development programs for the Coney Island neighborhood, which is home to over 50,000 residents.
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States. Members swim in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from November through April. Since 1903, they have been hosting a public New Year’s Day Plunge for all brave souls to usher in the year ahead.
“We are excited to ring in 2019 with the iconic annual Polar Bear Plunge and to partner with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club to raise funds for local Coney Island nonprofits,” Alliance for Coney Island Executive Director Alexandra Silversmith told this paper. “As we celebrate 115 years of this tradition, we invite all New Yorkers to join us and make it a record-setting plunge!”
The not-for-profit Alliance for Coney Island is a private–public partnership dedicated to continuing the year-round revitalization of Coney Island.
To register or learn more about the 115th annual Polar Bear Plunge in Coney Island, go to www.polarbearclub.org.