COVID-19 leaves Okanagan's New Year's Day polar bear swims out in the cold | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 leaves Okanagan's New Year's Day polar bear swims out in the cold

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
December 30, 2020 - 2:30 PM

The latest COVID-19 restrictions from British Columbia’s health officer have left the New Year's Day polar bear swims in the Okanagan for 2021 out in the cold.

Organizers of polar bear swims in Peachland and Summerland have announced the cancellation of their New Year's Day events citing the restrictions on mass gatherings in effect now until Jan. 8, 2021.

"In response to COVID-19 restrictions, the Kinsmen Club of Summerland made the difficult decision to cancel the 36th annual Kinsmen Polar Bear dip at Sun-Oka Beach scheduled for Jan. 1 at 12 p.m.,” the Summerland Kinsman Club posted to its Facebook page. "We would like to thanks our repeat event sponsors, spectators, volunteers and participants for their support over the last 35 years, and we are looking forward to the 2022 Kinsman Polar Bear Dip.”

In Vernon, organizer Vicky Proulx says the 2021 polar bear swim, which usually takes place in conjunction with the City’s winter carnival, will not take place this year.

“We’re still encouraging people to take a polar bear dip, although we can’t host any event due to COVID-19,” Proulx said. She said the Vernon Winter Carnival is still expected to take place but at this point they are not sure what it will look like.

The Kelowna polar bear swim has gone virtual this year, as organizers encourage participants to do their own version of a polar bear dip, whether that’s a plunge in the lake, a jump in the snowbank, or getting a bucket of icy water dumped on your head.

CRIS partnership and marketing coordinator Danielle Hennig says participants are being asked to register or donate on the Kelowna Polar bear fundraiser page at and post their challenge videos to social media. Prizes will be awarded for some of the best challenges judged.

The Kelowna challenge is ongoing throughout all of December and finishes Jan. 1, but participants will have until Jan. 7 to submit their entries and donations. More information can be found on the CRIS Kelowna Polar Bear Facebook page here.

The Kamloops Polar Bear Swim is not going ahead this year as planned, according to the event's Facebook page. Organizers are encouraging people to take a virtual dip, post a photo to the Facebook page and make a donation to the food bank.

Kacie Koyle has been organizing the polar bear swim at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park for the past four years. She is trying to figure out if or how the swim can be done with the present COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

— This story was originally published, Dec. 13, 2020.

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