Annual Prince Rupert Rotarians Polar Bear Swim

Expressions are worth a thousand words. Participants brave the winter waters in the polar plunge at Rushbrook Float on New Years Day. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Siblings, Emmi Dawson dressed as fluffy bat, and Bo Millar as a Murlock, try to stay warm before taking their first ever polar bear plunge at the 2020 Prince Rupert Rotary Club event on New Years Day. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
The Rotary team of winter water waders dressed as elves for this years polar bear dip. Carol Buford and fellow Rotarian are excited to submerge themselves in the fun. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Crowds of well wishers watching the eager beavers waiting to take the chilly polar bear plunge on Jan. 1, 2020. The annual event was sponsored by the Prince Rupert Rotary Club and held at Rushbrook Floats. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
The annual polar bear plunge saw Police, Fire and SARS all around to advise and assist at the Prince Rupert Rotary Club sponsored event at the Rushbrook Dock on Jan 1. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Fire Rescue teams were on hand in case of any emergencies at the 2020 annual polar bear plunge hosted by the Prince Rupert Rotary Club. The event had the all clear with no mishaps at Rushbook Floats on Jan. 1st. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
SARS were on site at the annual polar bear swim to offer advise and assistance to participants. No emergencies were reported. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Proud and Loud , Emmi Dawson and Bo Millar emerging from the chilly waters after the polar plunge at Rushbrook Floats on new years day. The annual event was sponsored by the Prince Rupert Rotary Club. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Hundreds of intrepid Rupertites braved the gusty wind and rain for the annual polar bear swim on Jan. 1, 2020. The event was hosted at the Rushbrook docks by the Rotary Club of Prince Rupert and attracted eager participants from as far away as Germany and New Zealand.

Foreign exchange student, Rebecca Jansen, arrived in Prince Rupert in August on a year high school exchange. Eager to take the plunge into Canadian culture and participate in the chilly tradition, Jansen stated,“It’s pretty crazy. It’s an adventure, but it’s a once in lifetime thing to do a polar bear swim in Canada.”

The event ran from approximately 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on New Year’s day. Over three hundred free hot dogs were devoured by 12:30 p.m. and washed down by hot chocolate. Individuals and teams were encouraged to dress up in costumes to experience the full fun of the event. This year’s theme for the Rotary team was elves. In the past they have dressed as sharks, zombies, cowboys, and superheroes. Also spotted this year was a Santa, a Murlock video game character and a fuzzy bat.

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Fire, Police and the Search and Rescue Services (SARS) were on site to advise and assist wary water waders in case of any emergency – of which there were none. SARS offered advice to new Rupert resident originally from N.Z., Emmiline Dawson, as she contemplated the chilly dip from the end of the dock, “The Search and Rescue were great and showed me the best place to jump in from the dock. Hey, I survived! So, it’s a bonus to have them here,” she jokingly explained as she hurried to warm up after her polar plunge. “It’s totally worth it and I would do it again next year.”

Carol Bulford is a long time Rotarian. She was excited to submerge herself in the experience of her eighth polar bear swim. “It’s a great way to start the year. It’s something crazy to do but you’re only cold for a couple of hours, then you have the rest of the year ahead of you,” she laughed.

When asked how many years the polar bear swim had been held, Rotarian, Barb Gruber replied “It’s been so long with so many that I do not even know.” Gruber explained that she believes Rotary is a wonderful organization with dedicated volunteers. There were approximately 30 volunteers to enable the success of this year’s event. This sentiment was seconded by fellow Rotarian Bev Killbery, talking about the polar bear swim, “It’s a fantastic way of giving back to the community. We couldn’t do it without the generous donations from local businesses,” she said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert Rotary Club and McElhanney engineering firm recognized for innovative trail project

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