Corrianne Henson of Penticton exits the frigid waters of Okanagan Lake Monday during the annual Summerland Kinsmen New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip. Mark Brett/Western News

Polar bear dippers rise to the occasion in Penticton

One hundred brave souls take the plunge New Year’s Day

With the thermometer reading a balmy -7 degrees C and the shoreline waters of Okanagan Lake checking in at 0, about 100 brave souls took the plunge Monday in the 33rd annual Summerland Kinsmen Club Polar Bear Dip.

“I’m calling it the best of the worst feelings,” said club president Blair Gillingham, before the noon start on News Year’s Day at Sun-Oka Beach in Trout Creek. “This is just an ongoing tradition and everybody seems to love it.”

Gillingham admitted afterwards he was a little worried about the turnout but was relieved to see all the vehicle and participants pulling in at the last minute.

“Now I would say it’s the best ever,” he said with a smile.

Summerland’s Tom Reilly was back again for another year, and figured going into his 85th year, now was as good as time as any to keep the tradition alive personally.

“Chilly but nice,” he said standing on shore after his time in the water. “I did it last year, some people never learn.”

Related:Swimmers to participate in Polar Bear Dip

Along with other Kinsmen Club members, a large contingent of Penticton and District Search and Rescue representatives were on shore and in the water to help out in the event anyone got into problems however, fortunately, there were no problems.

A BC Ambulance Service crew was also on site.

There were five fires ablaze on the beach for dippers to warm themselves post swim, along with some hot chocolate and hot dogs.

Donations for the food, refreshments and T-shirts go towards projects by the Kinsmen locally.

“We’re serving the community’s greatest needs and that’s important to us,” said Gillingham, who is also past participant.

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(Above, left) Another happy participant makes his way back to the shore after an extended stay in Okanagan Lake. (Above, right) One of the 100 people who took part in the polar bear dip gets some warmth by the fire.

Summerland’s Patrick Amundsen dressed in his finest black fish net attire caught the judges eyes as the best male costume. Mark Brett/Western News

Another happy participant makes his way back to the shore after an extended stay in Okanagan Lake. Mark Brett/Western News

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