White Rock’s anchovy-free polar bear plunge marked as a success

Zapped by the cold, Colby Walker runs from the water at the White Rock Polar Plunge. (Christy Fox photo)Zapped by the cold, Colby Walker runs from the water at the White Rock Polar Plunge. (Christy Fox photo)
Participants up for the task could swim to an iceberg to ring a bell. (Dawn Evans-Murphy photo)Participants up for the task could swim to an iceberg to ring a bell. (Dawn Evans-Murphy photo)
New to this year, organizers gave prizes out for the best costumes. (Dawn Evans-Murphy photo)New to this year, organizers gave prizes out for the best costumes. (Dawn Evans-Murphy photo)
‘Batman’ emerges from the water. (Christy Fox photo)‘Batman’ emerges from the water. (Christy Fox photo)
Hundreds of people gathered on the pier to watch swimmers take the plunge. (Christy Fox photo)Hundreds of people gathered on the pier to watch swimmers take the plunge. (Christy Fox photo)

Although there was a concern with the “anchovy invasion” on White Rock’s beach, the 50th anniversary Polar Bear Plunge is being celebrated as a success.

Event co-organizer Lindagene Coyle told Peace Arch News Thursday it was hard to count the number of spectators or participants, but the number was well into the hundreds.

“After cancelling last year and then having the anchovy invasion along with the seals and the sea lions. You know, we were really quite fearful, but we said there’s no way we’re going to cancel two years in a row. And look what we got in return,” Coyle said.

The event was cancelled last year due to debris scattered along the beach after a Dec. 20, 2018, which also destroyed the city’s pier.

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This year, there was a concern after thousands of dead anchovy washed up near the pier. It was reported that the large number of anchovies in one area depleted the oxygen, causing many of the fish to suffocate.

The concern prompted Coyle to visit the beach multiple times in the days leading up to the event.

“The beach was absolutely pristine,” Coyle said of the Jan. 1 event. “I’m going like, what’s all the hullabaloo about it? We do the polar bear swim around the white rock, most of the fish and that issue was really west of the pier… But where we were, it was, I’ll say, the cleanest I’ve ever seen the beach.”

Prizes were awarded for best costumes, Coyle said, adding that Mayor Darryl Walker was among the participants to take the plunge.