New year begins with an icy plunge in annual Polar Bear Dive

Jan 1, 2018

Temperatures in the single digits did not stop 25 people from charging into the water on Monday, celebrating the new year with a shiver.

"It's a spiritual cleanse and I love the adrenaline rush," said Jodi Hoban, right before taking a swim in the icy waters of Onset Beach.

The Onset Box 5 Association holds the Polar Bear Dive annually, though it hasn't been done for two years, said organizer Earl Fowler. Money from the dive goes to the scholarships sponsored by the Box 5 Association.

Fowler said this is the coldest year of the Polar Bear Dive in Onset, so fewer people than usual participated. A rescue team from the fire department was standing by to assist if needed.

Though the polar bears were few in number this year, a large crowd of spectators lined up on the pier to cheer on the swimmers from the safety of their winter coats.

Patrick Sheehan just moved to Onset and decided to try the swim for the first time. He said he has never gotten that cold that quickly.

"It's my baptism for Onset," Sheehan said. It was his first time visiting Onset Beach.

Andrew Avellino from New Bedford participated in the dip for his fourth year.

"My strategy is to run in and out as fast as I can," said Avellino, who wore a gorilla costume. He said the icy swim is a tradition for his family.

Most of the swimmers were out of the water after a few moments. They had warm water, towels and extra layers of clothes waiting for them on the snowy beach.