Coney Island

Coney Island Polar Plunge 2020: Everything you need to know

December 27, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
Coney Island Polar Bears take the big plunge. Eagle photos by Todd Maisel

Soon, tradition will once again summon thousands of brave Brooklynites into the brisk waters of Coney Island on New Year’s Day.

At around 1 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2020, a new class of adventurous swimmers will convene on the Coney Island Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue to help welcome the New Year as part of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual holiday dip.

Roberto Velazquez proudly carries the American flag while attending the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at Coney Island.
The annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at Coney Island. Photo: Arthur de Gaeta/Brooklyn Eagle

Founded in 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the country. Its seasoned members enjoy swimming in the Atlantic Ocean every Sunday from November to April. But the New Year’s Day swim is open to anyone willing to brave oftentimes brutal temperatures in the name of tradition — and charity.

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While there is no fee for swimmers or observers, there is a small suggested donation to benefit local Coney Island organizations including the New York Aquarium, the Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Island USA, the Coney Island History Project, and other local arts and history projects.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams prepares to wade into the waves as admirers look on. Eagle photos by Arthur de Gaeta
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams prepares to wade into the waves on Jan. 1, 2019, as admirers look on. Photo: Arthur de Gaeta/Brooklyn Eagle

Last year’s swim saw more than 4,000 people who raised over $60,000.

All participants are required to register in order to swim.

This year will be the 116th annual Polar Bear Plunge, a tradition that began back when the club was formed. Today, revelers come to Coney Island from all over the city, and beyond. Swimmers are encouraged to bring a change of warm clothes, surf boots or old sneakers, towels and, if they so wish, their most outrageous costumes.

A group of wrestling fans is all decked out for the plunge.
A group of wrestling fans is all decked out for the plunge. Photo: Arthur de Gaeta/Brooklyn Eagle

Last year’s plunge was a particularly warm one, the temperature outside a balmy 59 degrees. On the other hand, 2018’s New Year’s Day swim was a frosty 37 degrees — its waters, an even icier 17 degrees.

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This year’s weather will be more like 2018’s, according to a 30-day forecast for the borough.


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