Four years ago, I stampeded into Lake Michigan with thousands of other wackos for the annual polar bear plunge, and after the experience, I was fairly certain I would never do it again. However, when a group of friends told me this morning they were going to do the dip, I found myself wanting to tag along and start my New Year with a splash of abandon.
I carpooled with a few ladies to North Avenue, where we parked, tugged off a bottle of whiskey and walked â€śdownâ€ť to Bradford Beach.
We got there by 11:30 a.m., but it was already packed with shivering swimmers-to-be and morbidly curious people watchers. I remembered a few of the folks from when I dipped the first time, including the guy with the trombone who played â€śWhen the Saints Go Marching Inâ€ť as we ran into the icy waves. Also, I saw an Elvis or two in swim trunks, a few Santas, tons of wig wearers and a gaggle of bikini-clad teenyboppers.
I wore just a black bathing suit and a black, feathery boa that now looks, sadly, like a duck drenched in oil. I wished I had remembered to bring sandals or flip flops, but since I wasnâ€™t about to go in wearing my Sorels -- I would need those after the plunge -- I ran in barefoot.
Personally, Iâ€™m a firm believer that in order to truly be a member of the Polar Bear Club, you have to dive in and get your entire head wet. So, like the last time I went in for the dip, I stripped down at 11:59 a.m., ran into the frigid water after the air horn blasted at high noon, dove under a wave, and ran back to the shore screaming. My friend Renee was waiting for me on the shore with a thick beach towel.
I have never, ever been so thrilled to see a towel in my life.
Within two minutes I was dressed again. I threw my sweatshirt and sweatpants over my damp suit, followed by my hat and coat and Sorels right after that. Then, for the first time in a minute or two, my freezer-burned brain started to register thoughts.
â€śHow was it?â€ť asked someone whom I didnâ€™t know, while she shoved a camera in my face.
â€śSomewhere between invigorating and insane,â€ť I said.
Later, after a hot shower and with a cup of steaming tea in my hand, my son asked me the million-dollar question that Iâ€™ve heard many times: â€śWhy would you want to swim in the freezing lake?â€ť
Iâ€™m tempted to say because itâ€™s ridiculous or itâ€™s an intense way to start fresh in the New Year or that itâ€™s a great cure for the New Yearâ€™s Eve hangover, but really, the best answer, I think, was already said in 1961, when President John F. Kennedy was asked why he thought the U.S. should send a man to the moon.
â€śBecause itâ€™s there,â€ť he said.
well, this is actually what Kennedy said-
"Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said Because it is there. Well, space is there, and were going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.
TosaJimBob, do you really think it's a good idea to throw Special Olympians in ice water?
The only time I did it a few years ago it was my feet that were the coldest. That sand is like ice.
Show me the other 3 Talkbacks
8 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published May 21, 2015
Anyone who's traveled from General Mitchell International Airport in the past few years has most likely noticed the "Recombobulation Area" signs that hang just beyond the security checkpoints. Is "recombobulation" even a word?
Published May 20, 2015
This year, PrideFest, which takes place June 5-7, will feature three bathrooms labeled "gender-neutral" to ensure comfort and inclusiveness.
Published May 18, 2015
Fixture Pizza Pub is opening soon in Walker's Point at 625 S. 2nd St. in the former Boom / The Room space.
Published May 16, 2015
The Memorial Weekend Classic returns to Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove next weekend. The event will include the standard races as well as a free kids' carnival called "Leroy Butler Day at the Races" on Sunday. The carnival takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. and Butler will be there promoting his anti-bullying campaign.
Published May 15, 2015
Milwaukee is - and has always been - a town with many olfactory offerings. Here are six strong ones.
Published May 13, 2015
Cafe at the Plaza, 1007 N. Cass St., reopened today after being closed for renovations since March 30.
Published May 13, 2015
Kelsey Miller has exactly one month of bartending under her proverbial belt, but she already digs it. And she can mix a mean Old Fashioned.
Published May 10, 2015
The first-ever Brewtown Rumble, a free motorocycle and music festival, takes place Sunday, May 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Best Place, 901 W. Juneau Ave., and the surrounding streets. Everyone is welcome.
Published May 9, 2015
Rob Wagner speaks the truth when he says everyone is affected by cancer in some way, shape or form. Wagner, who lost his grandfather and his stepfather to cancer, found out he had a rare form of childhood bone cancer in 2007. He is now seven years in remission and has helped to raise $100,000 through an annual event. And, this is just the beginning.
Published May 7, 2015
Sal's Pizza will soon open at 2974 N. Oakland Ave., and plans to offer calzones, salads, sandwiches and, of course, pizza.