NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - They are some of the bravest, or craziest people you’ve ever met, depending on who you ask.
Frigid temperatures did not seem to faze the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, and others, who braved the sub-zero wind chills to sprint into the ocean this New Year’s Day.
Temperatures were warmer inside the water than outside. The water reached 37 degrees, and outside hardly reached the teens. First responders didn’t take any chances. There were divers, police boats, helicopters overhead, an FDNY heating tents and ambulances on hand. At least one swimmer had to be treated inside an ambulance. EMTs said he’s going to be okay.
“It’s a pretty glorious beach day as far as I’m concerned,” says Dennis Thomas, President of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.
Thomas says the club meets every Sunday November through April for a swim, so today is hardly the coldest he’s ever experienced. But for those storming the sea who aren’t in the club, it’s a different story.
“This is definitely the coldest year,” says Michael Castrulli.
Hundreds took part on Monday. Some dressed as unicorns, others wore swimsuits, and many dressed as sea creatures.
For Joe Franco, it was her first plunge ever.
“I’m alive! There’s nothing like a little numbness to remind you, you still got everything on you and everything is good,” she screamed as she came out of the water.
The Polar Bear Plunge has been a tradition since 1903. The money raised this year will go to the Alliance for Coney Island and the New York Aquarium.
Many say the dive into freezing waters is not just a bucket-list moment, but the perfect way to wash off the old, and welcome in the new.
“It’s a sense of utter intensity and immediacy and that’s what makes it so great for New Years, you really leave last year behind you,” Thomas says.