Video: Swimmers ready to take polar bear dip into 2017

It’s a tradition that has been taking place for over 30 years and if you didn’t have cold feet before, you will after.

Blair Gillingham (left)

It’s a tradition that has been taking place for over 30 years and if you didn’t have cold feet before, you will after.

The annual Kinsmen Club of Summerland Polar Bear Dip takes place on Sunday at Sun-Oka Beach in Trout Creek.

“It is probably the one thing people actually do for their resolution,” said Blair Gillingham, president of the Kinsman Club of Summerland. “Then the rest of the year you can shrug the rest of them off because you have done the one main thing that is crazy.”

Environment Canada is calling for a high of -3 C on Sunday. Chances are it will be windy and a bit colder as it comes off the lake. It take a special kind of person, if not part crazy, to jump into the freezing water of Okanagan Lake in January.

“It does,” said Gillingham, who has taken the plunge a few times himself. “We actually get a few hundred people that come down and everyone jumps in. We even have had some of our local MLAs jump in. It is a really good time.”

Gillingham, who tested the water quickly on Wednesday with girlfriend Faith Pattingale, offered a few tips for first-time dippers.

“Clothes that come on and off easy. And, bring some shoes or something to wear on your feet because that is probably the hardest thing.”

Pattingale said she has even been talked into the polar bear dip a few times, just to say she has done it.

“It’s one of those things, you do it and yes your feet get so cold, but by next year you forget what that feeling was until you do it all again,” she said.

Whether you are brave enough to dive right in, get your ankles wet or just want to stand on the shore and watch that action, there will be hot chocolate and hot dogs available by donation. Warming fires will be lit on the beach and for those special people who have actually gone through the Canadian rite of passage and get in the water, a dipper T-shirt. Those few moments of teeth chattering cold are for a good cause.

“We put that (money) back into the Summerland community, whether that is building parks or upgrading parks and tracks. We have some projects in mind we would like to move forward with,” said Gillingham. “Summerland Kinsmen always do the light up and beer gardens at Actionfest and a lot of this goes right back into helping those events.”

Dippers will enter the water right at noon and prizes will be handed out for best team costume, best male and female costume and oldest and youngest dippers.

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