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Aquarium, Coney Island Y, History Project among recipients of money raised from New Year’s Polar Plunge

April 19, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Coney Island Polar Bear Club and the Alliance for Coney Island have announced the eight organizations, all local, that are recipients of more than $25,000 in donations raised by the 2022 Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge.

“The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is once again excited to offer financial support to non-profit organizations within the Coney Island community as we acknowledge the great work happening among them and the benefits they bring to the community,” said Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, which was founded in 1903.

“We appreciate the generosity of all the attendees of our traditional annual New Year’s Day Plunge. Not only did they participate in a life-changing, challenging winter dip, but their donations help support and revitalize Coney Island,” he added.

One of the awardees is the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, located on the famed Riegelmann Boardwalk, which runs a variety of conservation initiatives for local wild and marine life. Its animals range from sea turtles to octopi to sea lions. The donated funds will help support the Aquarium’s work, including local marine conservation efforts that will help keep New York’s waters safe for wildlife and people.

Among the additional awardees, the Coney Island YMCA will use its donated funds toward its summer youth program which allows children from the community to attend summer camp. The local arts non-profit group Coney Island USA, which produces the world-famous Mermaid Parade and operates the Coney Island Museum and Sideshows by the Seashore, will put funding towards keeping the arts alive in Coney Island where visitors can experience the thrill of a traditional ten-in-one circus sideshow.

People soak up the sunshine in the Boardwalk Rock Garden outside the New York Aquarium on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

The Coney Island History Project will also be receiving a donation that will allow it to continue its work in helping to increase awareness of Coney Island’s legendary past by providing access to historical artifacts and documentary material through educational exhibits and events. The History Project’s website contains valuable photographs of Coney’s past as well as oral histories from people who have lived and worked there.

Other organizations being awarded are the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS), Parachute Literary Arts, New York State Marine Education Association and City Parks Foundation.

“We are ecstatic to partner with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club to be the fundraising partner for the New Year’s Day Polar Plunge. Through this collaboration and being able to raise and regrant funds to our neighboring nonprofits to bring resources and support their work. We look forward to sending out these funds and seeing the support helping to fund these programs and activities for the youth,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island.

Parade attendees in costume make their way along Surf Avenue during the 2019 version of Coney Island USA’s Mermaid Parade. AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States. Its members swim in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from November through April. Since 1903, it has been hosting a public New Year’s Day Plunge for all brave souls to welcome the New Year. In the past decade, the Club has raised more than $500,000 to support charities.

The not-for-profit Alliance for Coney Island, Inc. is a private-public partnership dedicated to continuing the year-round revitalization of Coney Island. The Alliance represents local businesses, nonprofits, and the community, with support from the New York City Council, the Brooklyn Borough President, and New York City Economic Development Corporation.


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