CONEY ISLAND — Thousands of people held their breath and ran into the frigid Atlantic off Coney Island Wednesday afternoon to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge, a century-old tradition to ring in the new year.
The air temperature hovered around 38 degrees at 1 p.m. when the brave swimmers took their dip, a significant departure from last year’s 59-degree day. Many participants summoned screams when running into the tide and came out laughing, as if refreshed by the chilly waters for the year ahead.
This year was the 116th annual plunge and saw 1,822 participants. The event raised more than $55,000 through donations for the Coney Island community, including the New York Aquarium, the Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Island USA, the Coney Island History Project and other local projects.
Every year the plunge is organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, a organization that meets every Sunday from November to April to enjoy Coney’s winter waters.
The January swimmers use the polar plunge to refresh themselves for the year ahead.
Some participants wore costumes in the water, and some brought along their weary pets.
Swimmers of all ages plunged into the frigid water.
The plunge is hosted by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, an organization that swims in the Atlantic off Coney every Sunday from November to April.
A man lifts his knees as he marches into the ocean to meet his fellow plunge participants.
The spectators turn into the participants.
Two friends embrace in the water.
The nearly 2,000 participants were sent into the ocean in waves up until 1:30 p.m.
The Polar Plunge attracts hordes of photographers, some brave enough to get into the chilly ocean alongside the swimmers.
A man erupts from below the surface of the waves to look around while an NYPD patrol boat scopes the scene.