After a little begging and pleading, I am pleased to say that enough of you have volunteered to come out to the Mon Wharf on Tuesday morning that I’ll safely be able to plunge for the fifth straight year without worrying about breaking Mrs. Crappy’s Have Enough People To Haul Uncle Crappy’s Carcass Out Of The River Rule.
This speaks well of your generosity and sense of adventure. If not for your intelligence.
(Note: As previously stated, this will be my fifth consecutive year swimming on New Year’s Day. Which probably makes me even dumber than you.)
A fair amount of you have done this before, so this post will serve as a refresher. But if you haven’t experienced the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, here’s where to go, what to bring and what to expect:
WHERE: The Mon Parking Wharf, a dingy lot right on the river, sort of underneath the Parkway East. You enter the lot at Wood Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard (See the yellow sign in the pic above? That’s where you’re going.), loop around and find a place to set up. If you’re swimming with us, HEAD TOWARDS THE POINT once you’re off the ramp; it’s a little less crazy at that end. Find me and my red Honda Element, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
WHEN: This is the tricky part. The swimming doesn’t start until 9:15 or 9:30, but you should plan on being there by 8:30. I have friends who have missed the whole thing because they got stuck in the traffic that arrives late. I’ll have a Thermos of coffee — and, uh, some other stuff — to help keep us warm until it’s showtime.
WHAT TO BRING: Plenty of warm stuff for before and after. Towels. I recommend jumping in wearing shoes of some kind — water shoes, old Chucks, Tevas, etc. Don’t wear the shoes you just got for Christmas; it’s muddy down there and we might get a little snow on Monday night. And while this is a point of personal preference for me, it’s worth mentioning — the less you wear into the water, the less icy cold stuff you have to get out of when you’re in a hurry — and you will be in a hurry — to get warm.
WHAT TO EXPECT: You think you’ve been cold before? Sorry — not even close. The air temp won’t be too terrible — it’ll be somewhere near 30 when we swim — but the water temp has been around 37 each and every year I’ve done this, and that, boys and girls, is colder than anything you’ve ever felt. The shock when you hit the water is hard to describe; for me, my mind goes blank, with one exception: “GOTTA GET OUT OF THE WATER.” We’ll set up in an area where it’s easy to do that, but take a second and help everyone else out of the water as well. And once you’re out and dry(ish) and warm(ish)? Congratulations. You’re a Polar Bear, and you have those bragging rights for the rest of your lives, even if you choose to never do it again.
AND THEN: We go eat.
If you have questions, ask. Watch Twitter on Tuesday morning, and I’ll let everyone know when I’m there. See you New Year’s morning, boys and girls.