For a few years now Lulu and I have talked about doing the Polar Bear Plunge, a New Years day tradition where Milwaukeeans dash into the ice cold waters of Lake Michigan at the stroke of noon. Talked about it, but never even tried to go. It's been so many years of "maybe next year" that she snarkily referred to *not* going as our actual tradition.
Well, enough of that. Today, we did it!
The kids were scattered between different NY Eve locations, so we scooped up Lu and our niece Stacey from my parent's place, then Junie from a friend's house, and headed down to the lake.
Alas, we misjudged the size of the crowd. I expected a few hundred people and difficulty parking. What we got were thousands of people (probably only a couple hundred who went in the water) and NO parking. I won't lie. I handled this stress poorly, and squabbled with Lisa. Eventually she just dropped us off and we had to hike the rest of the way.
Now, as January 1st goes in Wisconsin, this was a beauty. The sun was out, the temperature was about forty degrees F (by my reckoning) and the water a balmy 35 degrees F. What more could you ask for?
(the event did have medical personnel in the water in case someone went into shock)
Without Lisa, our plans for a mobile changing station were kaput, so we threw our stuff in the sand and, when the horn sounded, waded in.
It wasn't that bad. Oh, it was painful, sure, a bit like a thousand knives thrusting into your skin, but most of THAT didn't occur in the water, but once you returned to dry land. THEN the pain hit, especially in your feet. But with the air conditions as mild as they were, the pain was short-lived and we dried off quickly.
So, naturally, we went in for a second round.
None of us were in the water as long the second time, nor were we as deep. But it was a lot more pleasant, probably because we knew what to expect.
Here's a video of me in the surf.
Afterwards, the same quick pain, the same quick relief. But as we were getting dressed a local newsreporter from WTMJ showed up to do a report, and Junie asked to take a picture with him.
I didn't talk to him on-air, but we did chat for awhile. I told him only a few weeks ago we'd been in the Bahamas complaining about the water temperature there, and here we were jumping into a frozen lake!
It was a good time, and I'm glad we did it. It's something LuLu and I can scratch off our bucket lists. And who knows, we may even do it again!