119th annual polar bear plunge is back in Coney Island this New Year’s Day

December 1, 2021

Photo by Kim on Flickr

One of New York City’s oldest traditions may also be its coldest. The 119th annual New Year’s Day polar bear plunge returns to Coney Island on January 1 for the first time since New Year’s Day 2020. Hosted by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest winter bathing club in the United States, the event draws thousands of New Yorkers brave enough to jump in the Atlantic Ocean during the winter.

Photo by Kim on Flickr

“After so many months of stress, hardship, and uncertainty, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club invites all New Yorkers to join us in our New Year’s Day Plunge, purge the past, and establish an optimistic outlook for the new year,” Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, said.

“There is no better way to separate the past from the future than a brisk plunge in the frigid Atlantic with fellow New Yorkers. We look forward to hosting the largest, most spirited plunge in our 119-year history.”

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club was founded in 1903 by Bernarr Macfadden and continues to operate today, with group swims held every weekend from November through April. As current president Dennis Thomas told 6sqft in a 2015 interview about what to expect for first-timers: “I’ll say it’s cold; let’s start there. If you can get past a threshold of two to three minutes, you’ll be surprised how long you can stay in.”

To participate, plungers are encouraged to donate to local organizations, including the New York Aquarium, Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Island USA, Coney Island History Project, and others.

The polar bear plunge takes place on January 1, 2022, at 1 p.m. You can register online here, or in person on the day of the plunge.


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