January 1st is Polar Bear Swim/Plunge Day

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Since 1920, a group of hardy swimmers has celebrated New Year’s Day by plunging into the frigid waters of Vancouver’s English Bay. As crazy as it sounds, the custom has spread to the United States, where chapters of the American Polar Bear Club have established themselves in a number of states known for their cold winter weather. In Sheboygan, Wisconsin, more than 300 daring swimmers—many of them in costume—brave the ice floes of Lake Michigan to take their New Year’s Day swim. About 3,000 to 4,000 spectators stay bundled up on the beach and watch. The Sheboygan event has gradually expanded into a day-long festival, with a brat-fry, a costume contest, and live entertainment.


A polar bear plunge is an event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. In the United States, polar bear plunges are usually held to raise money for a charitable organization. In Canada, polar bear swims are usually held on New Year’s Day to celebrate the new year. Wikipedia

CONTACTS:
Greater Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau
200 Burrard St., Ste. 210
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L6 Canada
604-682-2222; fax: 604-682-1717
www.tourismvancouver.com
Sheboygan County Convention and Visitors Bureau
712 Riverfront Dr., Ste. 101
Sheboygan, WI 53081
800-457-9497 or 920-457-9491; fax: 920-457-6269
www.sheboygan.org
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 3
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Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

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