Ahh...winter in New Jersey: skiing down slopes, sipping cocoa by the fire, and jumping into freezing cold lakes???

Insane or Inspired?

Polar Bear Plunges involve crowds of usually-sane people stripping down in freezing weather and jumping into icy water, typically for a good cause (no, not hypothermia---we mean charity.) According to the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, it all started in 1903, when fitness fanatic/author/ publisher Bernarr Macfadden founded the organization as a “winter bathing club”. Macfadden believed his frigid water forays led to increased stamina, immunity and virility. Unfortunately, they also led to his becoming labeled a kook.

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Present-Day Polar Bears

Today, Macfadden’s legacy lives on in Polar Bear Plunges from Canada to the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands to the United States. Locally, New Jersey offers your choice of plunging in Morris County or Sussex County:

LEAP IN THE LAKE FOR OUR SPECIAL KIDS, 1PM, Saturday, February 11, 2017, Hopatcong State Park, Landing, Roxbury Twp.,  Sponsored by Lake Hopatcong Elks #782, proceeds from this plunge help send special needs kids to Camp Moore (specifically-designed for kids with disabilities.) Immediately following the plunge, a post-leap party with food, raffles and giveaways takes place at the Lake Hopatcong Elks #782 in Mount Arlington Boro. Plungers receive complimentary party tickets and a t-shirt. Not down with the dip? Contribute by making a donation or purchasing a $25. party ticket. Email bpoe782@optonline.net for required form/waiver.

SPARTA ELKS CHARITY PLUNGE INTO LAKE MOHAWK “CHILLIN FOR OUR CHILDREN”, Noon, Sunday, March 12, 2017, Lake Mohawk Beach #1, Sparta Twp.,  The Sparta Elks Lodge #2356 hosts this annual plunge which benefits special needs children and Camp Moore. Non-plunger? Become a corporate or individual sponsor, or raise pledges as “Non-Plunge” support, then dip a toe or finger. Furthermore, sport a costume for a chance to win the “Best Costume” award. Complimentary food and entertainment for plungers, or $15./non-plunger. Email PeteJenApp@yahoo.com for required form/waiver.

Be The Plunger

Ready to take that dip? Warm up to these helpful hints first:

  • Wear thin clothing that won’t get weighed down in the water, slowing your exit
  • Sport soak-friendly tennis or water shoes to protect your feet both in the water and on the freezing shore
  • Especially relevant: Skip the booze! Alcohol accelerates hypothermia
  • Grab a robe, blanket or thick towel in which to wrap up right before and after your plunge

However you choose to participate--wet or dry--enjoy a good time for a great Morris County or Sussex County cause!