Thursday, December 15, 2016

Toronto Polar Bear Dip 2017 coming New Year's Day

Sunnyside Beach remains the place to be on the first day of the year - if you like your water frigid and your friends beside you also freezing their asses off! The annual swim into Lake Ontario water sometimes requires ice to be broken so the swimmers can make it into the rocky waters that lie between the sandy beach and the concrete break-wall protecting the inner harbour.

The Polar Bear Dip is in support of Habitat for Humanity and has continued since 2005. People start gathering early to register for the event, grab some free hot chocolate and wonder why they signed up for this punishment. The dip starts at noon and everyone lines up and with a rush they all head into the cold water. Some don't make it far before they return to shore and start to dry off, others seem to revel in the water and dive headfirst and spend some time hanging out in the deeper waters offshore.
Usually there are several news outlets on hand, however it is rare that any of the journalists actually dive into the water. There will be lots of photographers in and around the water taking photos, you can see some of the ones I took posted here and they also used mine on the Polar Dip's photo page.

Some tips: Don't use flip flops as they tend to come out as soon as you hit the water, try sandals that will stay on your feet. At the water's edge the sand turns into round beach stone which is hard to keep your footing on and the water quickly deepens to your waist so a fast run usually doesn't last too long before you are falling into the water. It stays waist deep for some distance so you really don't have to worry about swimming - it is really more of a dip. Not everyone dives into the water, some don't get wet above the waist. Don't try to knock any photographers down (I will be in the water) - there is a lot of expensive equipment trying to capture the event for everyone's enjoyment. And the crowd - and the news, love individual and group costumes.

Sad news though - Sears Great Canadian Chill which took place in the Beaches and moved to Family Day in Yonge-Dundas Square has been cancelled for 2017.

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