In Edmonds: Dip, duck, plunge, smile

12th annual Polar Bear Plunge kicks off 2019
By Brian Soergel | Jan 02, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel Kelsey Way, in red, was one of hundreds who took the Polar Bear Plunge challenge in Edmonds. It was the Lynnwood resident's first time. See more photos on Edmonds Beacon's Facebook page.

The Edmonds Beach Water Temperature-Taker Dude – otherwise known as the engaging and hirsute Bill Lindsay – recorded the water temperature at 46 degrees at 1 p.m. New Year’s Day.

That answered the b-r-r-r-r-ning question.

Still, the frigid temps didn’t stop hundreds of hearty, cheerful and obviously deranged locals and visitors from racing into Puget Sound during the 12th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Brackett’s Landing North.

Some just dipped their toes. Others waded in up to their waists and beat hasty retreats. Some ducked up to their heads. A few went for the full plunge, emerging with wide eyes, yelps and toothy grins.

Spectators – who lined the beach, walking path and ferry dock – outnumbered plungers, but seemed to be having as much fun, pointing fingers, snapping pictures and questioning the participants’ sanity, with nodding heads in agreement.

The crowd seemed about as large as last year, no doubt helped by relatively tepid temps for January and sun breaks that the weather gods seemingly always allow just in time for the plunge.

The event has certainly come a long way.

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 Edmonds Uplift Society sponsored the event, which begins at Daphnes and ends at the park.

In 2017, Taylor – who lives in Ireland with his wife and two kids but frequently returns to visit and even plunge, which he did Monday with his family – announced that the Edmonds Uplift Society had closed its membership books and retired its signature white bathrobes.

But the closing of the Uplift Society didn’t mean the fun had to end. On Tuesday, members and others gathered at Daphnes, where they joined in the traditional Rainier beer toast (it’s a Pacific Northwest thing) to the original Edmonds Uplift Society and sang “God Bless America” before marching down to the beach.

Anyone in a robe was welcomed to join the toast and singing.

The Polar Plunge has traditionally acted as a fundraiser for the Edmonds Historical Museum.

And, as it did last year, Daphnes contributed $500 to the museum, as did Jeff Barnett, owner and brewer at Salish Sea Brewing Co. on Dayton Street.


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