Polar bear dippers welcome New Year with a frigid dash into Okanagan Lake
Barnacle Boy John Hughes and Mermaid Man Steve Fenning prepare to enter Okanagan Lake at Summerland's 2017 Polar Bear Dip at Sun Oka Park in Trout Creek, Jan. 1, 2017.
(STEVE ARSTAD / iNFOnews.ca)
January 01, 2017 - 1:52 PM
PENTICTON - A fresh dump of snow and sub-freezing temperatures proved perfect weather for Summerland’s New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip.
Participants from as far away as Australia ran the beach for a brief dip in the waters of Okanagan Lake.
Summerland Kinsman Club’s Blair Cunningham said roughly 200 people showed up for the frigid frolic, which has taken place at Sun-Oka Beach in Trout Creek for 32 years now.
“Numbers might be down slightly from last year because of the weather, but it looks about the same,” he said after the last participants left the water.
Participants ranged in age from seven-year-old Ben Rattan of Summerland to 74-year-old Barry Bates of Naramata.
Nine members of Penticton Search and Rescue participated in the dip, with three taking up positions in the water in submersible suits. Two volunteers from B.C. Ambulance were also on hand.
Penticton Search and Rescue’s Dale Jorgenson measured the water temperature just prior to the dip at around 1 degree Celsius.
“It’s probably colder than last year,” he said, noting the prolonged freezing spell in December.
Air temperature was around -1 Celsius with overcast and a slight breeze from the north.
Dippers kept true to tradition this year, dressing in costume to provide some extra entertainment for spectators which appeared to outnumber participants by at least 3 to 1.
Summerland Kinsmen, who organized the always popular New Year’s Day ritual, provided several bonfires for participants, as well as souvenir T-shirts. They also operated a concession serving hot dogs and hot drinks for a donation, proceeds of which fund local families and community projects.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017