Hundreds gathered in Fort Langley on New Year’s Day to take part in an annual polar bear plunge to kick off the start of a new decade.
Spectators believe this year’s event drew the largest crowd since its inception five year ago.
Tamelia Platt, 35, said it was her fourth year participating with her daughter Tegan Reid, 16, and the second for her son Dakota Reid, 17.
“It’s just become an annual family tradition,” said Platt.
The trio bet the last person out of the waters in the Bedford Channel would win $50. Dakota was first to admit defeat, while Platt and Tegan agreed to call it a tie.
“You start the year with an experience… so it kind of sets the pace for the rest of the year,” Platt explained.
When she first participated four year ago the shore was covered in ice, she recalled.
“There was snow on the ground and ice on the shore, so this is a dream,” she said about the sunny weather.
The event has been growing over the years, Platt noted.
Doreen Murphy who was helping distribute free hot chocolate on behalf of the Fort Langley Lions, echoed Platt’s observation.
“I don’t remember there being that many people before on the other bank watching, many a few, but not as many as this year,” Murphy said.
The high tide around noon on Wednesday left little beach exposed for participants and spectators to gather on.
“Usually there’s more beach, so for those of us who are watching we get a better view,” Murphy added.
Kimberly Snow, with Kimz Angels, said the water was freezing after she returned to the shore.
“It gets the community together and I think it’s awesome to have that in Langley,” she said. “It brings out everybody from young to old, it’s just the beginning of a New Year so what better way to do it then the polar bear swim.”
Ringing in 2020 with a Polar Bear Plunge at the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre! Thanks to all who took the Plunge. Happy New Year! #townshipoflangley #polarbearplunge #happynewyear2020 pic.twitter.com/2nktMkNioN
— Township of Langley (@LangleyTownship) January 2, 2020
Meanwhile, across town about 250 people turned out for the second annual dip at the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre, according to Nikole Longhi, community recreation manager with the Township of Langley.
“Overall, it went great and [we got] a lot of positive feedback from the community,” she said.
Complimentary Starbucks beverages and Otter Co-op polar bear cookies were enjoyed by those who took part.
Participants dressed in costume were awarded water passes to the park.
Last year about 50 people participated in the event.