2018 Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge

11th annual splash into the Sound kicks off a new year
By Brian Soergel | Jan 03, 2018
Photo by: Brian Soergel Edmonds' 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge was held at Brackett's Landing North.

What started as a small gathering of like-minded folks has morphed into one of Edmonds’ most popular traditions.

Indeed, the 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Brackett’s Landing North bulged with humanity – those brave enough to splash into Puget Sound to welcome the new year, and those content to live vicariously through them.

Spectators – never have there been more on hand – lined the park’s path and moved into position on the ferry ramp to watch revelers in bikinis, shorts, wetsuits, crazy hats and colorful floaties.

The New Year’s Day plunge – celebrated locally and worldwide in oceans, rivers, lakes and just about any body of water – was created in Edmonds by Daphnes owner Brian Taylor. He was inspired by a 1930 photo, hanging in the Main Street bar, picturing the Edmonds Uplift Society, a drinking club formed during Prohibition.

For the first 10 years, the new-day Edmonds Uplift Society sponsored the event, which begins at Daphnes and ends at the park.

Last year, Taylor – who lives in Ireland with his wife and two kids but frequently returns to visit and even plunge, which he did Monday with the whole fam – announced that the Edmonds Uplift Society had closed its membership books and retired its signature white bathrobes.

As well as starting the new year with a splash, the Edmonds Uplift Society had raised money to support the Edmonds Historical Museum, money coming through the selling of the white, terry-clothed robes.

Existing members paid $50 to add an embroidered new year – such as “2017” – on their robes.

And new plungers who donated $200 or more were admitted into the Edmonds Uplift Society and received an official robe with their chosen nickname embroidered on front and the society logo on back.

The group donated $1,000 to the museum last year.

But the closing of the Uplift Society didn’t mean the fun had to end. On Monday, members and others still gathered at Daphnes, where they joined in the traditional Rainier beer toast to the original Edmonds Uplift Society and sang “God Bless America” before marching down Main Street to Brackett’s Landing, led by young Jack Taylor and a proudly held plunger.

“Anyone in a robe was welcomed to Daphnes to join us for the toast and the singing,” Taylor said Monday.

And instead of the Edmonds Uplift Society collecting money to donate to the museum, Daphnes made a $500 gift instead.

Jeff Barnett, owner, brewer and assistant janitor at Salish Sea Brewing Co. on Dayton Street, matched the donation, meaning the museum was rewarded with another $1,000.

On Monday, the assembled throng screamed and laughed their way into the water after a short whistle blast from Edith Farrar, an original member of the Uplift Society and the self-proclaimed “beach master.”

Farrar said she herself took the plunge the first three years, but stopped after suffering through a sinus infection.

Was it cold? A bit. According to Bill Lindsay, the celebrated Edmonds Beach Water Temperature-Taker Dude, the water temp registered 46 degrees. Still, that was warmer than outdoors, where it hovered in the mid-30s.

They call it a Polar Bear Plunge for a reason.












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