VIDEO: Swimmers take icy plunge to start new year

It was a cold start to 2017 as around 75 people participated in the 32nd annual Polar Bear Dip.



There was no sunshine, sunscreen or umbrellas to be seen at Sun Oka Beach on New Year’s Day, but there were plenty of people.

Approximately 75 participants took the plunge into the icy water for the 32nd Annual Kinsmen Club Polar Bear Dip, while a crowd of about 200 cheered them on.

According to the Environment Canada weather information for our area, the air temperature was -2 C. at noon, with the wind chill making it feel like -6 C.

As a result, people were as quick to run out of the water as they were to run in, eager to dry off and warm themselves by the fires.

Seven-year-old Ben Ruttan, who was named the youngest participant, said it was “horrible” and not something he would ever do again.

Participating in the dip for the second time, 10-year-old Emily Jell said it was “really cold.”

Tom Reilly agreed with this assessment.

“When you dive in and go under the water it is damn cold I’ll tell you!”

Reilly, at the age of 83, was recognized as the oldest person taking part and he thinks that he may do it again. He did it this year because his wife thought he couldn’t.

“He said he was going to do it and I said ‘you’re crazy’,” explained Amandah Reilly.

Many other people on the beach said they take part in the event year after year.

“I’ve done it five or six times now,” said Alan Messier. “It’s been something I do and I encourage others to do. It’s a good way to bring in the New Year.”

Jennifer Ganzeveld said ever since she split up with her husband six years ago this is how she starts her year.

“I jump in the lake and renew and refresh. I love it!”

For Cherish Anderson and her daughter Kaylee, it has become somewhat of a family tradition and they were joined this year by other family and friends.

“Five years ago she (Kaylee) decided she wanted to dip her toes in, so we’ve been doing it every year since,” said Anderson. “It’s a great way to start the year.”

For the Summerland Kinsmen Club, the Polar Bear Dip has also become a tradition. They have been hosting the event for 32 years, making sure it is done safely. They light warming fires and serve hot dogs, hot chocolate and give out T-shirts, all by donation.

Blair Gillingham, president of the club said any money the club raises through their efforts during the year, goes right back into the community.

“We’re building parks, upgrading running tracks around Dale Meadows and we have projects in mind for the future,” he said. “We want to get some kind of fitness equipment built into the parks.”

By the sound of things, it seems there will be no shortage of people willing to come out again next year to support this popular event.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Most Read