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 30, 2016
We hadn't dropped by Kegel's Inn for a few years, so we decided to stop in for the famous fish fry. Once again, we were not disappointed with the fare or the space, which has housed a German bar and restaurant since 1924.
Published May 27, 2016
According to a source, Yield, 1932 E. Kenilworth Ave., closed last night and once word spread through social media, so many customers showed up it turned into a "borderline block party."
Published May 27, 2016
My family and I decided to head to Schaumburg, Ill., this past weekend to visit Medieval Times, one of nine locations in the chain, to find out - among other things - what would happen if we asked for a fork. Turns out, 'twas a beauteous adventure and better food experience than expected.
Published May 25, 2016
Today on FOX's "Studio A," OnMilwaukee's Molly Snyder reads host Bryan Kramp's tarot cards. Tune in to find out if he got the Devil card or not. In the meantime, read about the local tarot scene from Jen CintrĂłn and Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady.
Published May 23, 2016
Reinventing ourselves takes a lot of guts, something all five of these women - who switched careers at the age of 40 or older - have plenty of. Some left the corporate world, some joined it, but all of them share one thing in common: they are now closer to their True Norths.
Published May 20, 2016
Paul Hepp will launch his new brewery-and history-tours-by-bus business that's simply called Fun Beer Tours on Friday, May 20. Hepp says Fun Beer Tours is a mix of his two passions: craft beer and local brewery history.
Published May 19, 2016
It was a rollicking soft opening tonight at Urban Bay View, 2301 S. Logan St., the second business venture of Paul Jonas, who also owns Tonic Tavern, and is managed by longtime Tonic bartender and bellweather of the service industry, Paul "PK" Kennedy.
Published May 18, 2016
Harley-Davidson launched a new concept in Milwaukee, Portland and Los Angeles today: a pop-up bike share that gives riders the chance to test out the new Dark Custom Harley-Davidson Roadster. In Milwaukee, the pop-up popped up in the Third Ward on Broadway.
Published May 18, 2016
Josh Silberman, who grew up on Milwaukee's North Shore, knew at a young age that he wanted to have a career in film and television in Los Angeles. He was partially inspired by his cousin, the great Gene Wilder, and partly by his own love of adventure and travel.
Published May 17, 2016
In late May, Sprecher Brewing Company will introduce three new "hard sodas": Hard Cherry Cola, Hard Orange Cream and Hard Cola. The local brewery already offers Hard Root Beer, Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Apple Pie.