The 2016 Polar Bear Swim in Fort Langley was extremely frigid. (Langley Advance files)

Polar bears prepare for Langley’s New Year plunge

The annual swim in the Fraser River is set for noon on Jan. 1.

It’s almost time to plunge into the freezing waters of Bedford Channel for the annual Fort Langley Polar Bear Swim.

Darian Kovacs of Jellybean Marketing is one of the founders of the loosely-organized annual event.

This year, hundreds of people are expected to line up on the shore in Brae Island Regional Park, on the north side of the Bedford Channel, just before noon on New Year’s Day.

“The bell will ring,” said Kovacs, and everyone will take the plunge.

About 700 people are estimated to have attended last year.

“We attract all the valleyites,” Kovacs said.

Though the Vancouver polar bear swim is better known, the Fort swim has grown since it was first held in 2014 as a small gathering of a few friends.

There is no official organization, no registration, and no entry fees, said Kovacs. It’s simply a mass community gathering and event.

As for why someone would want to run into freezing water – past years have seen ice forming along the shoreline – Kovacs said it’s about starting the new year fresh.

“It’s like a very cool baptism,” he said.

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The 2016 Polar Bear Swim in Fort Langley was extremely frigid. (Langley Advance files)

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