Polar Bear Club makes big splash with $60,000 donations

New Year’s Day swimmers give to Coney Island groups

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s plunge into the frigid Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day raised some cool cash for local non-profit groups, the club recently announced.

Club members raised an impressive $60,000 in the 115th Annual New Year’s Day Plunge and plan to donate the funds to nine Coney Island-based organizations, including the Coney Island YMCA, Coney Island USA, Coney Island History Project, Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, the NY State Marine Education Association, NYC Parks Foundation and Parachute Literary Arts.

More than 3,500 swimmers braved the cold temperatures on Jan. 1 to wade into the ocean. The event, which draws international media attention, also serves as a fundraiser as participants are asked to make donations.

“The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is proud to be able to offer support to these worthy organizations in the Coney Island community. We wish to thank all of our New Year’s Day Plunge participants who donated so generously to make this possible and hope to see them all again on New Year’s Day 2020 for another plunge in the frigid Atlantic,” Club President Dennis Thomas said in a statement.

The New York Aquarium, which is located in Coney Island, will receive a hefty $20,000. The funds will be used to assist the aquarium’s conservation initiative, the New York Seascape program, which studies whale and shark populations and works to build a marine conservation constituency in Coney Island.

“This money will help our scientists study and protect our local marine ecosystems and the wildlife found in our waters around New York…including the Polar Bears found in Coney Island!” New York Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin said.

The Polar Bear Club’s fundraising partner, the Alliance for Coney Island, will receive $24,000 which will go toward supporting free summer events like Friday Night Fireworks and job recruitment fairs.

“We are proud and excited to have been the fundraising partner for the historic 115th New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge. This year was phenomenal and record-breaking in all aspects and we are ecstatic to put our donation to good use to continue providing free events to Coney Islanders and visitors,” Alliance Executive Director Alexandra Silversmith stated.

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