Seaside Heights held its 26th annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit the athletes of the New Jersey Special Olympics on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The $2,086,409 raised went to programming and events for more than 25,000 athletes across the state. N.J. Law Enforcement presented the event as a yearly fundraising for Law Enforcement Torch Run events.
There were vendors selling sweatshirts, hoodies, travels mugs and other merchandise with the Plunge logo. Wawa had a tent and vending truck dispensing free hot chocolate and coffee. The N.J. Policemen’s Benevolent Association was also present.
The water temperature was 41 degrees, two degrees warmer than the temperature on land but with a ten mile an hour wind from the northeast, it felt like 32 degrees.
The crowd was energetic with many passionate chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!” and singing. There were flags in support of the police and fire departments. Many teams had custom made flags to complete their dynamic. Costumes ranged from a Tyrannosaurus Rex to pirates to “Game of Thrones.”
After a nice rendition of the national anthem, the tape was cut at 1 p.m. and the plungers sprinted en masse for the chilly waters of the Atlantic. Most plungers hit the water and ran back to the beach for the warmth of their blankets. Many however, decided to stay in the water to dance and celebrate. One team brought a banner with the words “Cat Crew” in blue written across it. Members of the team waded through the water, under the banner and seemed to bow before it and their teammates.
Event safety was monitored by the Coast Guard, N.J. State Police, local police and fire departments.