Hundreds dive into 2020 at 26th annual Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip

Jesse Thomas / Global News

What better way to ring in the new year and the new decade than taking a plunge into the frigid waters of the Atlantic?

That’s how more than 200 people spent their first day of 2020, taking part in the annual Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip.

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Organizer Sarah O’Brien said the event, now in its 26th year, began modestly, with a handful of local residents taking the plunge.

It has since turned into a New Year’s Day tradition for hundreds who make the jump and hundreds of others who show up for support, she says.

“It was started 26 years ago with some local people who decided that they wanted to start their new year fresh, and so it just sort of stemmed from that,” said O’Brien, who’s not only an organizer of the event but also a participant.

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The Polar Bear Dip is also a fundraiser, with proceeds going to Feed Nova Scotia.

Last year, the event raised more than $6,000 for the charity. This year, organizers were looking to match that total — or better.

“We definitely want to help the local food banks, especially during this time of year and around the holidays,” said O’Brien.

It’s an event that certainly draws a crowd. The wharf was lined with spectators and participants, while members of the fire department were on hand to provide assistance.

Substitute teacher Christine Thompson was the seventh jumper to take the plunge and it was also her first time participating in the event — part of her New Year’s resolution to be bold and try new things.

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“It’s a new decade, a new year and I just wanted to go boldly into the future and do things out of my comfort zone,” said Thompson, who was all smiles post-plunge.

“Today that felt good and it will be a good story for my first day back at school.”

Thompson says she’ll be taking part again next year.

Raw video of 83-year-old Arnie Ross participating in the 2018 Polar Bear Dip.
Raw video of 83-year-old Arnie Ross participating in the 2018 Polar Bear Dip.