Brave souls take part in area polar bear dips
Published Monday, January 1, 2007 6:17PM EST
Hundreds of brave residents donned their swim trunks and bikinis and plunged into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario on Monday as part of the annual polar bear dip.
Swimmers at Toronto's Sunnyside beach were met with ideal conditions over the noon hour as the bright sun shone down and warmed the air to 9C.
Some of the scantily clad participants wore toques as they carried out the New Year's Day tradition that some would never consider attempting.
The event aimed to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. Almost $15,000 was raised last year.
"It's cold, it's invigorating," one repeat participant said with a smile as she hopped up and down to keep warm before taking the plunge.
"This is probably the warmest year," she said, adding she was trying to be a supportive wife as her husband helped organize the dip.
While most of the brave souls ran into the water and then quickly fled, some basked in the chilly water, enjoying the moment a little longer.
At Coronation Park In Oakville, more than 500 residents were expected to take part in the 22nd annual Courage Brothers' Polar Bear Dip.
That event, started in 1985 by brothers Todd and Trent Courage, raises funds for World Vision, which uses the money to provide clean water in developing countries. The event has grown to become Canada's largest charitable polar bear dip.
"Our event has raised more than $280,000 in recent years for World Vision's life-saving water programs," Trent Courage said in a recent news release.
"This year we will have 500 participants ready to dive into icy water to construct a water system for a community of 1,300 people in Senegal."
The spectacle draws several thousand onlookers and features live music, costumes and celebrities.
This year's dip was hoping to raise at least $40,000.
With a report from CTV's Chris Eby