Week 37: Taking the Polar Bear Plunge: Freezin’ for a Reason and Supporting Special Olympics New Jersey

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Be Bold. Get Cold…

 

Surrounded by a trio of Tyrannosaurus Rex who were dancing to an old Eddie Money tune…

 

I looked to my right and watched Santa and Mrs. Claus laughing as they untethered their reindeer.

 

On my left, a clan of cavemen were swinging clubs and being chased by a polar bear riding a dinosaur…….

 

The beach erupted with a chant of “U-S-A, U-S-A” as we started counting down from 10. At number ‘5’ I quickly stepped aside as a troupe of princesses riding white unicorns charged across the beach. This was the 25th annual Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge and over 7,100 “plungers” had come to jump into the icy Atlantic Ocean to raise money for the Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ).

Jabba Lea Dino

It was a festive atmosphere. My husband Dean and I arrived at 9 a.m. to finish checking in, pick up my Polar Bear Plunge swag and enjoy the fun.  Dean was not a “plunger” but was there to support me and enjoy the day.

Arriving

Pizzz

 

The plunge was not until 1:00 so we had plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds along the boardwalk.

 

By 10:00 we were enjoying slices of pizza for breakfast – there’s nothing like giant slices of Jersey Shore pizza!!

 

By 10:30 we were chatting it up with a group of Vikings who were on a quest to conquer the beach. As we walked along the boardwalk we watched Princess Lea and her companion, Jabba the Hutt, stop for a photo op with a few rainbow-colored Narwhals.

 

dressing up

 

The event rose a record $2.1 million dollars to support Special Olympics New Jersey’s more than 25,000 athletes. SONJ provides training and competition opportunities in 24 sports as well as health, wellness, athlete leadership and Unified program initiatives across the state – all completely free of charge. Keeping that purpose in mind meant the cool, mid-40-degree and drizzly weather did not dampen anyone’s mood. We were freezin’ for a reason and everyone was enjoying the party atmosphere! The bars were open, some Boardwalk games were running, cheesesteaks, pizza, chocolates and taffy were everywhere, and there were plenty of costumes and music and dancing!

crowds as counting down

At 12:30 a sea of “plungers” gathered on the beach. A slew of divers and lifeguards were lined up facing the crowds, with yellow caution tape blocking the “plungers” from the water. Everyone was getting ready and excited to jump in! Singing and cheering started. Flags were waved and passed about. A few giant penguins made their way under the caution tape and jumped into the ocean – unable to contain their excitement anymore! Then the count down…

emergency workers

 

10… a group of Waldos from “Where’s Waldo” made their way to the front…

9…. The lifeguards and police in wetsuits made their way into the water to wait for us….

8….. The crowd started chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A”…

7…. I scanned the crowd to see a handful of superheros putting their shields down on the sand…

6… I moved up to the caution tape and videoed the crowd – the excitement was palpable….

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5… I quickly stepped aside as a troupe of princesses riding white unicorns charged across the beach …

4…. Around me everyone was starting to twitch with anticipation, smiling and laughing, our feet numb in the frozen sand…

3….. a group of men in tutus, dressed like bumble bees, lifted an elf and carried him towards the waterline…

2…. two women dressed as asparagus stalks bumped into each other and fell over…

1…. The crowd surged forward…

 

 

jumping in 1The next thing I knew I was running into the icy waves surrounded by thousands of other “plungers” laughing and yelling as we broke through the caution tape and jumped into the icy water.

 

Some people dove in. Some ran. Some sat in the water and let the waves crash over them. I barely felt the shock of frozen water because I was having SO MUCH FUN!! 

 

It was really fun to feel the energy of the crowd and be jumping into the ocean in February!!

 

in water 2

After about 5 minutes in the water, enjoying myself then taking photos and videos, it was time to get out and make my way back up the beach, soaked head to toe… to find my husband and a warm, dry towel and sweatshirt.

 

 

I will DEFINITELY do this event again next year.  And next time, I’ll come in costume! 😉

 

Thanks for reading! See you next week,

– Kim XO XO 

 

 

To learn more about the amazing programs of Special Olympics New Jersey, please visit their website at: https://www.sonj.org/

 

The Seaside Plunge is organized by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey, the largest grass-roots fundraising organization for Special Olympics New Jersey.  You can check out their webpage at: https://www.sonj.org/partners/law-enforcement-torch-run/

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