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 Sept. 14, 2014
Dear Kate is a relatively new line of undergarments with a built-in lining made to protect like a panty liner. OnMilwaukee.com recently took a pair on a test drive to Period Town.
Published Sept. 13, 2014
District 14, located next door to Cafe Lulu, will have a soft opening tonight, starting at 7 p.m. OnMilwaukee.com stopped by three hours early to get a sneak peek.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
These now-defunct, kid-friendly restaurants have many things in common, including this ...
Published Sept. 12, 2014
Todd Mrozinski has traced and painted more than 100 shadows of friends, family members and local artists - many of whom are drinking, a few eating and some contemplating or gazing. The series will soon be on display at Cafe Lulu and he is also currently accepting commissions.
Published Sept. 11, 2014
Last July, exactly one day before she turned 40, Kelley Hickman bought a school bus. It was the first step in starting her transportation business, Beautiful Endeavors, which launched last October. Little did she know when she made the initial purchase that within the year she would be able to leave her bus driving job of 11 years to focus her efforts exclusively on her own venture.
Published Sept. 11, 2014
Local filmmaker Kara Mulrooney crafted a 13-minute documentary, "An Evening At Angelo's" about the East Side cocktail longe and cabaret. It will premiere at the Milwaukee Film Festival on Monday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Milwaukee Film Festival go on sale today.
Published Sept. 7, 2014
Milwaukee DJ Paul Hildenbrand grew up on Milwaukee's Northwest Side. He spent a lot of time as a teenager rollerskating at rinks including Skateland, the Palace and Skate University and was always inspired by the music. Today, he has gigs all over town, including aboard Milwaukee Boat Line's Monday night Yacht Rock cruises.
Published Sept. 6, 2014
Four years ago, Montrel Wade - known by his fans as Trelly G - made a video featuring his hip-hop song "Milwaukee." Four years later, it continues to receive thousands of YouTube views, but Wade is focusing on future musical projects.
Published Sept. 5, 2014
Natali Heuss hopes to open UberDork Café - a cafe, gaming area, tech support station and classroom - later this month in Menomonee Falls.
Published Sept. 4, 2014
According to a sign on the door, Arin Bert Coffee and Grill, 222 W. Wells St., is closed.