In January 2003, 200 brave swimmers thought a ritualistic ‘plunge’ into the cold and frigid Lake Washington waters would be a great idea. Located at the Seattle Parks / Matthews Beach, the event back then was introduced by Meadowbrook Pool Coordinator, Janet Wilson. Redemption from a long and challenging 2002 could be a good start to the New Year, so her thinking goes. Fast forward to 2018, 10 TIMES that 2003 number dip their toes in the Seattle Parks Polar Bear Plunge. Yes, 2000. That’s a lot of redemption!
With such success Meadowbrook Pool Coordinator Janet Wilson has seen such a fun community building project grow way beyond the initial goal. With the success comes the challenge of maintaining and improving a community and media event that locals really look forward to. The event has also inspired other communities in the area; Tacoma and West Seattle both drew inspiration from the Seattle Parks event and now hold annual events.
Now most folks know about the very unfortunate and challenging story of actual Polar Bear habitat change and the obvious climate change effect on these wonderful creatures. Well, a much less serious challenge threatens the freezy and cold annual Polar Bear Plunge here in NE Seattle. Here are the nuts and bolts.
Each participant gets a colorful quality ‘badge’ to commemorate the experience (cold experience, right?). Price tag, almost $2500. Posters, to get out the word, $100. Wrist bands and staffing also run up the numbers. Add to that the limited amount of staff one Community Center/Pool can provide on the early January date. Lastly, you still need to keep the 125 gallons of real hot water flowing, which is brought in one ‘cambro’ at a time. Yikes!
These stressful numbers and new reality reached Meadowbrook CC Advisory Councilmember, Mary Anderson and the Advisory Council as a whole. This is important advocacy for her and the Advisory Council. The race is now on to put together a plan that accessess important City of Seattle resources. The goal is to maintain the quality of the event and also support the workers who are relied on to keep the traditon alive. Thanks Mary and good work to you Janet and her dedicated team for caring about your community. No tip toeing into support for this fun event. Time for a solution that recognizes hard work, commitment and CARE for the community.