Loading articles...

Annual polar bear dips raise funds for charity

People wade into Lake Ontario for a cancer fundraiser on Jan. 1, 2011. Courtesy of the Great Canadian Chill

About 300 people marked New Year’s Day by running down a Toronto beach in the rain and into Lake Ontario for the annual Polar Bear Dip.

It was an unseasonal 4 C when the dippers in swim suits — and some sporting headgear that included Viking-style horns — took the plunge at Sunnyside Beach at noon Sunday.

Some had done this several times since the first dip in 2006.

Others were first-timers attracted by the chance to raise money for Habitat For Humanity or giving in to the urgings of family and friends.

Organizers were hoping to raise $40,000.

Meanwhile, more than 150 people braved brisk winds and frigid water temperatures to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean in Halifax as part of an annual New Year’s Day polar bear dip.

People young and old donned bikinis and swimming trunks for a brief-but-bitter dip into the icy waters in Herring Cove at noon Sunday.

Rob MacLellan, organizer of the event and a 14-year participant, says about $5000 was raised for local food bank Feed Nova Scotia.

Firefighters, police and emergency personnel were on hand to oversee the action and sent 20 people at a time to jump off the dock.

MacLellan, 54, compared the experience to being stabbed with needles thousands times.

He said the weather was ideal, with the temperature hovering at about 1 C and the sun peeking through the clouds.