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 “down” 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 “When the Saints Go Marching In” 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 wasn’t about to go in wearing my Sorels -- I would need those after the plunge -- I ran in barefoot.
Personally, I’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.
“How was it?” asked someone whom I didn’t know, while she shoved a camera in my face.
“Somewhere between invigorating and insane,” 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 I’ve heard many times: “Why would you want to swim in the freezing lake?”
I’m tempted to say because it’s ridiculous or it’s an intense way to start fresh in the New Year or that it’s a great cure for the New Year’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.
“Because it’s there,” 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 July 29, 2014
OnMilwaukee.com recently stopped into Little Whiskey Bar, 309 W. National Ave., and talked to Samantha Schreier about Milwaukee, shopping at Woodman's, dinosaurs and more.
Published July 28, 2014
Partcularly on a sunny afternoon, it's pretty incredible how many people stop for a selfie or to snap a shot of their pal with America's favorite shark jumper.
Published July 27, 2014
Milwaukee Water Commons will host it's first event, "We Are Water," as a way to culminate its one-year anniversary and to get community members literally and figuratively closer to the lake. The event will take place on Sunday, Aug. 3 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on the north end of Bradford Beach.
Published July 27, 2014
Because Chula Vista is located three miles from "the strip," it has the most rural setting for a water park. For some, this is the main appeal of the resort which means something akin to "beautiful view" in Spanish.
Published July 26, 2014
Four years ago, Jamie Rand read OnMilwaukee.com's "100 Things To Do in Milwaukee" article. Inspired, Rand decided she would complete all of the items on the list and, in doing so, found Brew City places she never knew existed. She also found the love of her life.
Published July 24, 2014
I had the chance to get behind the scenes of "Phantom Of The Opera" today to check out the famous, one-ton chandelier - created by Howard Eaton who designed the five fiery Olympic rings seen at the 2012 London opening - as well as a few of the props and costumes.
Published July 24, 2014
The Rebirth Brass Band will perform on Friday night at Cedarburg's Summer Sounds series. The free concert takes place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. in Cedar Creek Park. Recently, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with trumpet player Chadrick Honore, who at 27 is the youngest player in the band.
Published July 23, 2014
At 11 a.m. today, Mayor Tom Barrett - along with a group of city officials, designers, organizers and citizens - cut the ribbon on the new swings at the Marsupial Bridge.
Published July 21, 2014
Alissa Gonyea, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, planned to have a lesiurely summer that included travel and camping adventures with her son and nephew. Instead, she is taking care of four baby raccoons.
Published July 20, 2014
Festa Italiana ends today, and German Fest is up next. In preparation for next weekend's festival of all things German, OnMilwaukee.com chats with Klaus Fromme, who has been the executive director and president of German Fest since 1981.