Looking for an interesting way to jump into your New Year? Every year on Jan. 1, some brave (or, depending on your perspective, crazy) souls welcome the New Year with the Polar Bear Plunge – a run into the shivering, icy waters of Flathead Lake in Woods Bay near Bigfork. Last year, the 41-degree water didn’t deter these area residents from testing their nerve.
The plunge began over 15 years ago, and the number of people “plunging” increases every year. It’s a family event with people of all ages jumping in and scores more enjoying the view from a safe – and warm – distance. The plunge will take place regardless of the temperature on Thursday, so those taking the plunge should bring towels, warm clothes and shoes for after the event. Costumes are encouraged (I remember one fella from last year wore a particularly daring pink bikini).
Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. at The Raven in Woods Bay, 4.5 miles south of Bigfork on Flathead Lake. All participants are asked to sign in before they jump to ensure accurate numbers for the record book. A 2009 Polar Bear Plunge T-shirt is available for $13. The annual parade will start between The Raven and The Islander Inn at 1:45 p.m. and the actual plunge takes place at 2 p.m. Parking is at premium in Woods Bay during this event, so it’s recommended that those attending carpool and arrive early.
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