The National Weather Service’s forecast for New Year’s Day:

Mostly sunny, with a high near 29.

The NWS also calls for a low the previous night of around 15 degrees. Which means, assuming the sun is in fact out, it’ll be around 20 at 9 a.m.

Which means it’ll be perfect to go swimming in the Mon.

I’m seriously considering joining the members of Pittsburgh’s Polar Bear Club Thursday morning for their annual dip in the Monongahela River, their observance of the new year. It’s always looked fun, as you can see here.

It also looks insane, especially when you’re making the jump when the temperature is 10 degrees on the wrong side of freezing.

I’ve always been the kind of person who’s draw to odd events like this; that’s part of the reason I’ve been to Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day twice. And there’s a barefoot run — in snow, ice or whatever else we might find — as part of that other Groundhog thing I do.

The barefoot run is cold. Punxy is cold. But in neither case am I nearly naked, or jumping into a really, really cold river.

This might not have occurred to me if it hadn’t been for a brief Plurk conversation started by Mindbling. I haven’t heard any further discussion from her since, so I’m not yet certain whether she’s going to participate. But I plan on badgering her in the next few days, until I get an answer one way or another.

In the meantime, I have a request of you: Please. Someone talk me out of this.


  1. I could maybe be talked into this, if you can get my butt up that early… and i can wear every ounce of warm rugby gear I own…. maybe


  2. I’m figuring you’re exposed to the cold for about two minutes, tops:

    1. 10-20 seconds getting undressed before the jump.
    2. 20 in the water.
    3. 10 to get back to where you’ve piled towels and warm, dry clothes.
    4. 30 to get dry.
    5. 20 to get dressed.

    And then you run back to the car, which should still be warm.

    AA, it’ll be a piece of cake. You should be there.


  3. i think it looks fun, but having grown up next to the Mon, my concern for you would not be the cold. i recommend wearing a hazmat flesh-colored suit before entering any of those 3 rivers…remember to look for a 3- or 6-eyed carp.


  4. …have you had your series of hep b shots? for the love of god, we are talking about pittsburgh water! wait: maybe with the correct blood-alcohol %, you should be just fine. i guess the only worry now would be shrinkage.


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