A couple runs for their warm clothing after swimming for several minutes Tuesday Jan. 1 in Lake George annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge. Braving bitter cold and gusty wind, more than 1,000 people in swimming suits, shorts, bikinis — and some in bizarre costumes — charged into the frigid waters in the time-honored ritual.
Braving bitter cold and gusty wind, about 1,200 people in swimming suits and many in bizarre costumes charged into the waters of Lake George Tuesday Jan. 1 in a time-honored New Year’s Day ritual.
One of the revelers, Navy veteran Buck McTee of Florida, said plunging into Lake George in 23-degree temperatures with a frigid wind blowing was a matter of bravado, fun, and boosting one’s longevity.
McTee stood on the beach wearing shorts and a small Spiderman cape, unaware that the 23-degree wind froze droplets of water on his getup.
“Those who go in the water under these conditions either die or add 10 years to their life,” he quipped. “Besides, my relatives bought me enough whiskey to convince me to do this.”
Nearby were McTee’s nieces, shaking pink pom poms and voicing cheers. From Schaghticoke, they were clad only in summer shorts and U-neck T-shirts, with purple boas draped over their necks.
Anne VanVorst, one of the two teens, said the polar swim was a way to temporarily forget about friends who were injured in car crashes — and the other tragic incidents they’ve witnessed recently on television.
“With everything going on in the world, we want to take a break and have fun,” VanVorst said.
Later, Tush Nikollaj, founder and CEO of LogicalNet of Schenectady, said he sought to surpass a scene from the 2012 New Year’s Day plunge. Last year, he dove into the waters wearing an Armani wool business suit and Italian leather shoes. This year — with the temperature far colder — he wore not only the suit and shoes, but a top hat to surpass last year’s feat.
That’s not all, mind you.
Nikollaj was accompanied by a friend, Lisa Krizmani who wore a Versace cocktail dress, plenty of gold jewelry, and strap high heels. She also held a festive bouquet when the two of them dove into the frigid lake.
“I thought I’d do this better-dressed this year,” Nikollaj said, pouring water out of his top hat onto the snow on Million-Dollar Beach.
Less formally garbed was Tim Jones of Saratoga, dressed only in a small red-and-green Christmas-themed jockstrap that his friend Sue gave him.
“I feel under-dressed,” he said, emerging from the waters with his skin turning pink in the gusty frigid wind as he walked up the beach to put on some clothes. “I just thought I’d try a new challenge — and it wasn’t that bad.”
Bikinis, jock-straps, swimming briefs and formal suits weren’t the only swimwear. Many plungers donned costumes — there was an array of partyers dressed as superheroes. One group of revelers were outfitted as Avengers comic-book characters. Chris Folmsbee of Latham, costumed as Iron Man, lead his half-dozen friends into the waters without hesitation: they’ve launched each new year like this for four years straight. In past years they were dressed as ghost busters, pirates and Braveheart characters.
Emerging from underwater, Folmsbee said the swim was an invigorating tonic to start off 2013.
“If we punish ourselves today with this polar plunge, we’ll feel excellent tomorrow,” he said.
Behind Folmsbee was a large group of several dozen adults were on the beach, performing mass cheer routines. Dressed in red T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “End Polio Now,” they were representing Rotary Clubs from the Capital Region, raising awareness of Rotary International’s worldwide campaign to finally eradicate a persistent crippling disease, particularly among children. The group provides polio vaccine to many thousands of youngsters in third-world countries.
Poised to take a plunge in T-shirts and shorts, the group represented people ranging in age from their teens to their 80s.
Ann Cargile of Ballston Lake, 67, Past Rotary District Governor, said the group was committed to their cause.
“We want people to know about how devastating polio is, how people can lose the use of their arms and legs,” she said.
Fellow Rotary member Richard Hodge of Glen Lake, said he was ready to dive underwater for the cause.
“This is my 12th year,” he said. “It’s become a tradition — I love it.”
A couple runs for their warm clothing after swimming for several minutes Tuesday Jan. 1 in Lake George annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge. Braving bitter cold and gusty wind, more than 1,000 people in swimming suits, shorts, bikinis — and some in bizarre costumes — charged into the frigid waters in the time-honored ritual. See the Adirondack Journal website — or next week’s edition — for details..
Photo by Thom Randall