One of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Swims in the world is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, January 1, at English Bay in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Park Board is planning to celebrate the 100 years with a splash. The centennial anniversary will be the largest event ever, the board said.
The family and wheel-chair accessible event will run from noon to 4 pm with live musical entertainment, roving performers, and food trucks.
Swimmers will take the plunge at 2:30 pm.
If you wish to participate, please register at vancouver.ca/polarbearswim in order to receive a commemorative certificate.
The beginning of the tradition goes back to 1920 when Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers started their New Year in style by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay.
The group became known as the Vancouver Polar Bear Club. Since then, the event has grown into a much loved highlight of the holiday season, with thousands splashing in the cold water on January 1.
Peter’s granddaughter, Lisa Pantages, will be doing her 58th Polar Bear Swim on January 1 along with at least three generations of her family.
Polar Bear veteran George Pajari has participated in about a dozen Polar Bear Swims over the years, including four in a single day in 2013 at different locations in the Lower Mainland.
The Polar Bear Swim typically draws crowds of up to 9,000 with between 2,000 and 4,000 participants.
As many as 17 lifeguards will be on site in rowboats, on paddleboards, and at first aid station watching the crowd from elevated chairs.