If you've ever dreamed of jumping into the freezing winter waters off the coast of Coney Island, you'll have your chance on the first day of the new year. On January 1, 2011, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club will jump into the Atlantic Ocean to raise funds for Camp Sunshine, a retreat located in Maine that is specifically for kids that have life-threatening illnesses and their immediate family members.
While many across New York are just getting home, still sleeping or crawling around with a hangover from the New Year's Eve festivities, you can jump into 40-something degree ocean water. Swim time starts at 1pm but they request an early arrival. It takes place until about 5pm on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island.
There is no charge for swimmers or onlookers to participate, but they do appreciate donations for Camp Sunshine. When you make a donation, you get all day admission to the New York aquarium as well as a free breakfast. You can make a pledge online or on New Year's Day at the event. If you raise more than $100.00 in donations you get an event t-shirt.
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club was founded in 1903 by Bernarr Macfadden who was dubbed the "Father of Physical Culture." In 2010, there were a reported 1000 swimmers at the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island on New Years Day.
If you are planning on being a spectator, cover up from head-to-toe in a warm jacket, hat, scarf and anything else that will prevent you from shivering uncontrollably. For swimmers, a bathing suit (or more) is necessary and it is advised that you also wear surf boots to keep your feet somewhat warm. There will be changing facilities available, so bring plenty of warm clothes to switch into after the swim. Don't forget your towel!