Polar Bears take annual plunge in frosty Mon
Hundreds of shivering, shouting swimmers leaped into the near-freezing Monongahela River on the first, snowy morning of the New Year, as part of the annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Project Bundle-Up.
An estimated 1,000 people gathered at the Mon Wharf riverwalk for the annual tradition, wearing sweats, swimsuits, costumes or the Polar Bear Club T-shirts sold to benefit the Salvation Army, which uses the funds to purchase winter clothes for disadvantaged children and senior citizens.
"We figured, let's get the dumbest thing we could do out of the way at the beginning of the year," said Leonard Picone, 52, of Regent Square. "For five minutes it's horrible, but for the whole year you laugh about it."
The National Weather Service in Moon measured the river's temperature at 35 degrees, and the air temperature at 30 degrees as a light snow falling on the riverwalk was turned muddy brown by the recently-dunked.
"The colder the weather is, the better it is, because the water feels warmer," said Sean Hayes, 41, a chiropractor from South Park who has participated for the last 14 years.
In bunches, people jumped from the riverwalk into the water at 9:30 a.m., splashed around briefly, and quickly climbed back out to dry off, shout and pose for pictures. Frank Nelson, the de facto "president" of the Polar Bear Club, said the tradition could go back as far as the early 1900s; he started participating nearly 50 years ago as a Mt. Washington teenager.
First-timer Jen Cottrell said she jumped in to symbolize a re-baptism of sorts.
"I'm committing myself to the Lord and ready to start anew," said Cottrell, 39, of Etna. "Do you remember that line in ‘Titanic' when someone said the water felt like a thousand knives stabbing you? It felt like that."
Emily Bell, the assistant for Project Bundle-Up and also a first-time swimmer, said last year's swim raised about $7,500 for the charity, which has partnered with the Polar Bear Plunge for seven years. This year, she anticipated it would raise even more through donations and T-shirt sales.
Police and paramedics were standing by, but no one reported any problems.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Corbett signs Pennsylvania budget, vetoes legislative funding
- Penguins hire Agnew as assistant
- Food stamp fraud nets store owner prison term
- Regional manager remains positive about Century III Mall’s future
- Overbrook man gets prison for Craigslist ticket scam
- Bethel Park woman drowns while trying to save son
- Pirates notebook: Marte placed on bereavement leave
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- WPIAL denies eligibility for 2
- 2 top corporations move headquarters to Pittsburgh’s ‘dynamic marketplace’
- Monaca braces for potential Anchor Hocking plant closing