Swimming with the polar bears

For years I've been mulling over a New Years Day plunge into the frigid waters of the Atlantic. And for years I've chickened out. But not New Years Day 2012! Oh no! With an unseasonably warm day, it was the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet. Literally. So the plan was concocted at 10:30 am for the 1:00 plunge. Bathrobe, fisherman cap, flip-flops and camera. (This event must be documented) Let's do it.

The plan was to arrive at the legendary boardwalk watering hole Ruby’s at 12:30, march to the water and get wet at 1:00, end up at the Freak Bar at 1:07. I really didn't anticipate bathing for all too long. Does skin prune in cold water? I wasn’t going to find out. I ran into a bunch of friends in front of Ruby’s but spent much of the time hanging out and having a beer with Dick Zigun, artistic director and founder of Coney Island USA. Hell, if it was going to be my first plunge, it might as well be with a legendary Coney Island figure!

The boardwalk and beach had so many people hanging around, you’d think it was a weekend in mid-July. The atmosphere was joyous and festive as DJ Pernell Morrison blasted out the classic rock hits over his more than ample sound system. I’m going to assume that the polar bears at Rockaway were able to hear the Coney party and were just slightly jealous. After a beer we headed down to the beach and in we went.
The water was about as cold as the air temperature, so it wasn’t a drastic difference. Dick plunged right in. I was a bit more tentative as my wife was MIA with my bathrobe. I was unsure what to expect after getting out. I just went in up to my waistline.

Upon exiting the iced Atlantic, we ran into Debi, a good friend of ours. She was going in. Contact was made with the wife and my robe was ready. This time I was really going in! Debi and I ran into the water. I dropped down to my neck and quickly arose. Wow! It was cold, but it felt great.

Refreshing, invigorating, and numbing all at the same time.

After basking in our polar bear glory for a few more moments we headed down to the Freak Bar. A little later than my 1:07 ETA, but there nonetheless, and we began to spend the next 4 hours with some Coney Island friends both new and old, basking in the drying salts of the ocean on our skin, sharing stories and planning our 2012s.
What a great year this is going to be!

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