Saturday, February 16, 2008
The Polar Bear Plunge 2008
Today was the day, Gentle Reader – Sea Isle City’s 2008 Polar Bear Plunge. What an amazing, wonderful, unforgettable time it was. Can you see my stab wound and third nipple? (Just kidding – it’s stretch marks and a burn scar.) Oh yeah, baby – I’m the real deal.
NOTE: This is a modified copy of a post I made over at SJG (South Jersey Geocachers – check out “Evil Chicken’s Favorite Places.”) No Polar Bear Plunge participants were harmed in the forging of this blog.
The Anatomy of an UNFORGETTABLE Day
1. Arrive at Sea Isle City early enough to be close to the beach. It is here that we park our small SUV full of our gear for the Plunge.
2. Off low-carb eating for the day and Blueberry Pancakes taste even better than I remember. Why now, why not low-carb – why today? That’s easy, this could be my last meal and it wasn’t going to be a chef salad with bleu cheese dressing.
3. Meet other like-minded individuals from SJG who share the same form of insanity and desire to jump into freezing ocean temperatures together as a team. (All told, I believe that there were 14 of us.) “Team SJG” ROCKS.
4. Register, pay yer money and get yer shirt.
5. Find a table and watch the AMAZING SHOW that you will be a part of begin to parade by. I’ve been to New Orleans – on Bourbon Street at night; well, now I’ve been to Sea Isle City – on Landis Ave, under a big tent in the late morning. It is worth the trip even if you’re not making the Plunge. The costumes were a blast and a half; twisted sisters, Marilyn Monroe, Eagles cheerleaders with facial hair, a whole team of Santas, men in kilts, people in sombreros, American Gladiators and a woman dressed in an outfit with stuffed dogs pasted to her shirt carrying a sign that read, “Michael Vick’s Worst Nightmare.”
6. Get out of the tent. You’ve seen enough. The crowd is not feeling any pain, so to speak, and the music is way LOUD. The crowd was friendly but it is VOLUMINOUS; you will NOT be able to move. Get out – besides it’s almost time to get acclimated to the temperatures outside of the tent.
7. You made it out! Great. Now take your clothes off. Well, not all of them. I recommend starting with your shirt. There. Isn’t that better?
8. Grab your camera. It’s time to take up close pictures of the string band and the Ice Queen who sits quite regally on her throne of ice blocks. Grab some more pictures of others in costumes like a gaggle of witches, a cow and a gorilla. Make note of all the gorillas you see – impressive number.
9. Rejoin Team SJG and collect your gear for the beach. While at your vehicle (which we have already established is parked close by to the beach) strip down to your bathing suit and have your dry gear at the ready.
10. Grab your camera and begin to take pictures. Here comes that string band and the Ice Queen, who is still quite regal, on her throne of ice.
11. Grab your gear and face the throng of people ahead of you and your destination. Make sure that any little ones who are with your party are bundled up warmly and safe – it’s winter and a big crowd.
12. Did I mention it’s a big crowd? Make your way to the beach, show your blue wristband and reassemble with your group on the other side of the orange barrier fencing. It is this fence that separates the doers and the watchers.
13. Never forget – it is GOOD to be a doer.
14. Lay down your beach blanket or sheet, put down your gear, make sure all electronics are safe and look over your shoulder – better yet; turn and face the crowd and take a picture. Wow.
15. It’s TIME! 2:00 PM and the first wave of about a hundred people go running into the surf. Watch ‘em go. You’re not on the clock. Be determined, be willful and start your walk into the Atlantic Ocean.
16. Give as many High-Fives as you can to those who are walking / running out. The occasional scream of “YEAH!” or “WHODAMAN – YOUDAMAN!” is good also.
17. Now walk into the ocean (it’s not that bad really – especially if the wind and water temperature aren’t at great odds with each other. Today that magical balance was struck at about 38 degrees.) Keep moving forward – feet, knees, mid-thigh… when the breaker comes (you will know it when you see it) dive under the wave. Let it wash over you.
18. Yes. Now stand and take account of your surroundings. Look at the police boat just a handful of yards away waiting to scoop a hapless Polar Bear Plunger out of harm's way, look to see who is still in with you and look to the boardwalk. Man, that’s a crowd.
19. Whisper a prayer of thanks that: A) you haven’t had a heart attack yet and B) the temperature is not that bad (once your body goes numb).
20. Walk out of the ocean and head towards Team SJG. Take pictures, make new friends and, once you see that everyone is good, get ready for round two. (Be warned – you just may have to introduce your new friends to your wife.)
21. Grab your camera and get back into the surf. Pictures. Take many.
22. Get out; rejoin your group, towel off and change.
23. Take pictures of the kids and other Team SJG members on the ice throne. How cool is that? Sea Isle Ice outdid themselves this year.
24. Rejoin the group, grab your gear and head back to your SUV to drop off your gear and make plans on your next move.
25. Go get something to eat. Did I mention that this is a low-carb free day? Good. Enjoy your open-faced Reuben sandwich and slice of coconut custard pie; you’ve earned it.
26. Toast the man who made it all possible. Yes, the man who proposed the idea all those long months ago – “The Print Shop”.
27. Know that this was only the beginning. Stay warm with the knowledge that Team SJG will be back next year. Life is good.
28. Think about what costume theme the group will be doing in 2009. Oh yes, Life is good.
Thanks again Print Shop! Without you this whole crazy new tradition wouldn’t have happened. 4 out of 5 Chickens can’t wait until next year.
Did I mention that life is good?