Over 250 people take the polar plunge

Published on Thu, Jan 8, 2004
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Over 250 people take the polar plunge

On New Year�s Day, in the chilly 30-something degree weather, 269 people jumped into the chilly waters of Birch Bay during the annual Birch Bay Polar Bear swim.

For 20 years, participants have been diving into the cold water on New Year�s Day dressed in everything from nothing but diapers to full-on sweats. Sponsored by the Birch Bay chamber of commerce, and held across from Stephani�s Restaurant on Birch Bay Drive, this year participants jumped in at noon, many of them coming out of the water seconds later. The costumes ranged from American flags and a mad cow to Christmas lights and just a jock strap. Officials said the participants ranged from Birch Bay residents to Canadians to folks from all over Whatcom County and points south.

Award winners included Lance McGoey, 49, who won the least dressed category dressed in nothing but a jock strap and red high tops - he beat out a woman in a string bikini. Marlis Bedlington, 40, dressed as a �mad cow,� won funniest costume. Best costume went to members of the Birch Bay Bible Community Church youth group who dressed as Christmas lights, and the crowd favorite went to the Ferndale swim team.

The polar bear swim wasn�t the only swim of this sort in the county - while folks were jumping in Birch Bay, others plunged into Lake Padden in Bellingham during the annual Padden Polar Dip.

Last year, 188 people registered for the event, said Ruth Lauman, the events chair for the Birch Bay chamber of commerce. This year�s swim had the most registered participants in recent years. For a complete list of winners and more photos, visit online at www.birchbaychamber.com.