by Brenda Gibson
Canada’s 150th year dawned to see hundreds of brave souls thumbing their noses at Old Man Winter and taking the plunge into the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The five local Rotary clubs hosted the 47th annual Rotary White Rock Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1 that saw 338 people, aged four to 82, register to take their new year’s dip off White Rock beach.
As far as the eye could see, thousands lined Marine Drive, the promenade, the beach and the pier, lending moral support and preserving the excitement with photos and live video for those deterred by the day’s unusual snow and cold. After a dump of snow the night before, the -1 C briskness of the morning was warmed by a partly sunny sky – and even more-so by the enthusiasm of the more than 2,000 participants and onlookers, including more than 60 volunteers who made the event possible.
All five Rotary clubs worked with the other organizing partners, including the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 5 Crescent Beach, the White Rock Youth Ambassadors and the City of White Rock, to make this annual community event a resounding success.
St. John Ambulance was onsite to assist with first aid, Minuteman Press printed the posters and certificates and Sources sold hot dogs and drinks.
For the first time in event history, a limited number of “I Took the Plunge” T-shirts were available for purchase. Search-and-rescue supplied many volunteers and resources, including a warming tent, Rocky the polar bear, Frosty and Flurry the Yetis, two rescue boats on the water, a stage and PA system. Everyone especially loved the three fluffy mascots, jumping at the chance to pose for photos.
The festivities included the return of some “Polar Plunge Royalty Alumni,” namely Polar Bear co-founder Denise Stevenson who acted as grand marshall for the event, with a visit from another founding alumni, Crystal Loewan.
A big thank you to the many hardworking groups and dedicated individuals who participated to make the event another fun-tastic success, including the wildly generous “polar dipper” who spontaneously appeared to donate two Canucks tickets to the grand prize!
The five Rotary clubs look forward to their continued partnership with the other partners in hosting this event in the future.
In addition to sponsoring the Polar Bear Swim, the clubs kept their December calendars bursting with countless other noteworthy events. Here’s what the White Rock club was up to:
Every Saturday of the month saw one or more members of the club promoting community generosity as they manned the Salvation Army kettles at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre; at their mid-month lunch meeting, eight to 10 Paul Harris Fellow awards were presented, honouring those members who have donated $1,000 or more to the Rotary Foundation. And if all that wasn’t enough, a group from the club attended a Christmas carol sing-along with the residents of Rosemary Heights Seniors’ Village.
With so much generosity, enthusiasm and forbearance (of the weather at least), 2017 promises to be another amazing year of Rotary service in the community and around the globe.
Brenda Gibson writes on behalf of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s five Rotary Clubs. firstname.lastname@example.org