On the first day of 2014 Wrangellites gathered for an activity of mass insanity. The Polar Bear Club members, with event sponsorship from Wrangell businesses and organizations, dunked themselves into the very, very cold ocean.
Participants and onlookers gathered at Shoemaker park. Wrangell Fire and Rescue made sure that there was an ambulance on site and volunteers stoked the warming barrels up to a good roar. In the shelter people signed up for the swim.
The rain got going pretty good about this time and the wind chill on people's bare, wet skin was below freezing.
They gathered for a prayer before voluntarily walking into our little corner of the Pacific Ocean.
The timer didn't start until everyone was in the water and immersed themselves up to their neck. This is a really good event to be last in line for.
An ice cream headache is nothing next to how immersion in this water feels. Spirits were high, though.
Sixty lo-o-ong seconds later the fifty-six refreshed and exhilarated people shivered their way out of the water.
Then there were prize drawings! Thermos's, t-shirts, sweatshirts, a gallon of 2-cycle oil. Hey, don't laugh! Around here most people can use that oil in their boat and their chainsaw.
The grand prize, donated by the Wrangell Fire Dept., was a Mustang float coat. That is a really nice piece of gear, and may save this young man's life someday.
I raise a mug of hot chocolate to all of you who took the plunge!