Hundreds of revellers rang in the new year Thursday with a chilly dip into Semiahmoo Bay, at White Rock’s 45th annual Polar Bear Swim.
The event is always a crowd-pleaser, as large crowds flock to the area near the white rock on West Beach, and this year was no different, as the beach and nearby parking lots were chock full of participants and curious onlookers, alike.
More than 1,500 people took part in Thursday’s event, according to organizers, while thousands more watched from shore. Last year, an estimated 700 swimmers took part, while about 2,000 more showed up to watch.
This year’s event was, for the first time, organized not by the local Lions Club – which folded due to declining membership – but instead by the five local Rotary Clubs – Peace Arch, Peninsula, Semiahmoo, South Surrey and White Rock – with further support from RCM-SAR5 Crescent Beach, YWCA, Interact, Jimmy Flynn’s and the City of White Rock.
Also new this year was a Marine Drive motorcycle cruise by local motorcycle club, the Canadian Lonewolves.
Just prior to the swim, which took place at noon, members of the club – wearing swimwear, along with their motorcycle vests, helmets and other gear – rode down Marine Drive, in support of the event.
(Slideshow photos by W. Al Riede and Lance Peverley; video by Kathryn Wright )