January 1, 2018 4:25 pm
Updated: January 1, 2018 5:45 pm

Hundreds brave frigid waters for New Year’s polar dip tradition in Nova Scotia

WATCH: People from coast-to-coast decided to mark the New Year in a pretty chilly way - by taking part in the annual polar bear dip. Frigid temperatures forced the cancellation of some of these events across the country. But as Natasha Pace reports, one Nova Scotia community braved the cold to continue their yearly tradition.


At 83-years-old, Arnie Ross decided to kick off 2018 in the coolest way possible — by participating in the Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip.

“It starts your New Year’s off right,” said Ross.

“When I started the Polar Bear Dip 21 years ago, they said ‘are you going to jump in again next year?’ and I said ‘yes.’ So, I kept doing it every year until now. 22 years!,” exclaimed Ross as he made his way back onto the wharf from the freezing cold water.

WATCH: Raw video of 83-year-old Arnie Ross starting off 2018 by being the first person in the water at the Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip.

The Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip started in 1994 with just a handful of participants. It’s grown a lot since then with more than 200 people taking part this year.

Money raised is donated to Feed Nova Scotia. In 2017, the event raised $5,000.

“It doesn’t matter, young or old. If you have the nerve to jump, come jump,” said Katherine Morrison, board member of the Herring Cove Polar Dip. “It’s for a great cause.”

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READ: Polar bear dips: Canada’s bravest ring in the new year with an icy swim

The event was a little late getting started on Monday because of ice buildup around the wharf.

Residents ended up using a boat to help break up the ice for jumpers.

It wasn’t just locals participating in the polar bear dip. Some international students also braved the chilly waters.

“I come back, mostly for my students. I work for the Nova Scotia International Student Program and I also am a house mother for students and when I tell them about the jump and they want to do it, I feel like I should do it with them,” said Terry Spearns, a 16-time participant of the jump.

“I’m here in Canada to study. I do it right before I go to university and this is typical stuff in Herring Cove, that’s really famous, so I was like ‘why not’ and I just did it,” said Thomes Libert, who is from Belgium but in Nova Scotia studying. “It’s really too cold for me.”

READ MORE: Halifax drop-in centre prepares for Friday’s expected cold weather

Despite the frigid temperatures, organizers say they’ve seen people jump in colder weather.

“When you jump in, your whole body isn’t cold, it’s just like your head that’s cold and then your whole body goes numb and then you come up and go home,” said 11-year-old Ryann Hendsbee, who was taking part in the event for the third year.

With the 2018 Polar Bear Dip now complete, planning for the 25th anniversary of the event begins.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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