Coney Island Polar Bears distribute $60,000 in proceeds from annual “Polar Plunge”

CONEY ISLAND — If you are one of those warm-hearted Brooklynites who braved the cold waters at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day, then you will be happy to learn that your good deed has helped benefit community organizations to the tune of $60,000.

The donations were recently awarded to nonprofits in the Coney Island community on Monday, March. 9.

“The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is indebted to all attendees at our New Year’s Day Plunge and their generosity,” said Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.

“With the funds raised on New Year’s Day, we are able to support a number of cultural and non-profit organizations within the Coney Island community. Our annual New Year’s Day plunge is not only a traditional celebration of the New Year, but an opportunity to contribute to the community that makes Coney Island, and New York City what it is,” Thomas added.

All in all, the money was distributed among nine organizations that demonstrate community leadership, ranging from advocacy and public programming to educational resources and youth engagement. Over 3,000 registered participants, a record-breaking year for both attendance and fundraising, took part in the 116th annual plunge.

One of the largest donations was made to the New York Aquarium which received $20,000. The donated funds will help support the New York Aquarium’s local conservation initiative, the New York Seascape program.

Specifically, the money will help fund the Seascape’s work studying the region’s whale and shark populations, as well as help restore healthy populations of alewife herring and American eels to local waterways, and build a local marine conservation constituency in Coney Island, to help keep New York’s waters safe for wildlife and people.

In addition, fundraising partner, the Alliance for Coney Island, received $22,000 to support its free summer events such as the weekly Friday night fireworks, job recruitment events that help connect Brooklynites to employment opportunities in Coney Island, and advocacy for improvements to the Coney Island community.

Other community-based organizations including Coney Island USA, the Coney Island History Project, Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, the New York State Marine Education Association, the New York City Parks Foundation and Parachute Literary Arts received donations ranging from $500 to $10,000. 

The Coney Island YMCA was awarded $3,000 for its summer camp scholarship program, which allows several children from the community to attend camp over the summer and engage in activities that will enhance their social skills, as well as help keep their academics on track, keep them physically active and challenge them to learn new things every day. 

“We are excited to be able to be the conduit to fundraise for many great neighbor organizations,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island.

“We look forward to seeing even more New Yorkers come out in 2021 to celebrate and help fund these great causes,” Silversmith added.

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