Polar Bear Dip returns January 1st to Port Dover beach

Polar Bear Dippers at Port Dover beach in previous year. Photo by Earl Hartlen

Head Polar Bear Scotty MacDonald tells The Maple Leaf he will mark off an area at the Port Dover beach on Monday, January 1st, 2018 ahead of the 1 p.m. Polar Bear Dip.

He is also arranging for donations from onlookers to go to Port Dover Minor Baseball.

Beginning the New Year with a brisk dip in the cold waters of Lake Erie off Port Dover beach at Walker Street has become a tradition dating from 1982. Water and ice conditions can change from one year to the next. Last year more than 100 dippers and hundreds more spectators attended with temperature at 4 C and sunshine.

For those headed into the water, the advice is to always wear shoes and even socks to avoid being cut by ice and have someone waiting on shore with a warm blanket, dry clothes and a vehicle nearby. That is especially true again this year as there is no warm spot to escape to when soaking wet and cold.

Spectators love the excitement of the moment … swimmers charging across the frozen beach into the water fully aware it will be freezing cold.

For Polar Bear Dippers and the admiring crowd it is an adventure not duplicated in many Canadian communities on New Year’s Day. Some of the dippers return year-after-year as their special way to begin Day One of each new year.

Following the Dip, another Port Dover January 1 tradition is the Captain’s New Year’s Levee & Fiddle Party at Port Dover Harbour Museum. Curator Angela Wallace reports there will again be live music “from right after the Polar Bear Dip until 4 p.m.” Admission is by donation, the curator asks “please bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank.”

Another tradition for many people to head to the Norfolk Tavern on Main Street. Beginning at 11 in the morning on New Year’s Day until 2:00 the following morning there is music, food and beverages in a fun atmosphere. The Mushy Peez will entertain in The Brig.

As well, there are the many restaurants that remain open throughout the winter in Port Dover that welcome people before and after the Dip.



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