North Beach 2017 Polar Bear Plunge
Marlene Bradshaw exits the Chesapeake Bay after her fourth Polar Bear Plunge.

North Beach, MD – It wasn’t too icy but it was no hot tub either. The Chesapeake Bay gave hundreds of hardy souls of all ages an opportunity to wash off 2016 as the Town of North Beach hosted its annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge.

North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer announced the event was the 21st annual plunge and the bay water temperature was 39 degrees. Town Councilman Mickey Hummel noted prior to the 1 p.m. plunge that it was low tide, which meant participants would need to wade a longer distance to immerse themselves in the water.

The participants were a blend of experienced plungers and rookie waders. “It relieves stress,” said Marlene Bradshaw, a native of Peru now a Chesapeake Beach resident, who was doing the chilly dip for a fourth time.

Nine members of the Calvert Aquatics Club and one of their coaches, Candy Spain, were doing the New Year’s Day plunge for the first time. The club was one of several event sponsors. Another sponsor, The Chesapeake Mermaid, had two volunteers participating–Chris Mitchell of Owings and Dave Cornwell of Huntingtown. They also sent a representative to mingle with participants on the beach and explain the organization’s mission. The “professional mermaid,” who asked not to reveal her name, said the organization focuses on the environment, the restoration of habitat, animal rescues and often works with other bay advocacy organizations. Regarding the North Beach Polar Bear Plunge, the mermaid said “it certainly brings awareness. Anything that gets folks outside and interacting with the environment is a good thing because it builds a connection and makes them care. Beaches are great but  other coastlines just out of sight need to be cleaned up.”

The official count of how many plungers participated in the 2017 event was not available as this story was being filed. Participants who wanted an event T-shirt and a certificate were required to pay an entry fee. The beneficiary of the Polar Bear Plunge fee receipts was Calvert Hospice. Calvert Hospice Director of Development Claire Piason told The BayNet she was pleased to see so many people attending and splashing in the bay to aid the organization.

The Polar Bear Plunge was a successful wrap-up of the New Year’s weekend in North Beach. On Saturday evening, Dec. 31 a sellout crowd attended a New Year’s Party on the town pier.

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