Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Day Polar Swim 2013

New Year's Day 2013
     If your best friend jumped into a frigid river would you follow? I would guess the answer is yes as one hundred friends, family and Pottstown area neighbors decided that New Year's 2013 was a good day to take a frozen swim in the Schuylkill River for the fifth annual Polar Plunge at Riverfront Park.
     This year was especially chilly with the water temperature reading 39 degrees and the air temperature around freezing. The saving grace for the morning was no breeze to add on a nasty wind chill factor.
     The plunge continues to grow, but I don't for the life of me understand why anyone wants to jump in on a winter day. I can't take swimming when the ocean is 70 degrees. Even though I've been challenged to participate, I fight off the peer pressure and stay focused behind the camera and keep warm and dry wearing my heavy winter coat and knit cap.
Polar plunge at Riverfront Park
     It takes a special breed to jump in, a fool hearty and lively bunch to say the least. It's not just high energy males challenging each other but folks from all walks of life. Young skinny teens, boys and girls wait alongside fathers sporting a few extra pounds. And don't think mom is left out, she is jumping in too. Some dress in silly costumes and hats to match, others strip down to a bathing suit and pair of old sneakers which are a must to deal with the mucky and rocky riverbed.
     Hundreds of witnesses stand alongside these brave souls who are about to get the shock of their lives. And then the countdown 5,4,3,2,1!
     The crowd cheers them on and these happy souls run head first into the water. Some put the brakes on immediately as the water gets to their knees. They start feeling the icy chill, turn and slog back to the bank. Others push out to deep water, submerge themselves and bob to the surface letting out a loud shrill scream telling everyone know how cold the water really is.
Bonfire warms brave polar bears.
     The event doesn't last very long as the heartiest finally climb out of the river with skin turning a bright red.
     While drying off, it's a quick jog across the park where revelers stand and warm up by a roaring bonfire. You could hear friends already making plans to return next year for their annual tradition.
     I'll be there too, with camera snapping away to record the crazyness. Happy New Year Pottstown. You know how to have fun.

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