White Rock’s Polar Bear Swim – a decades-long New Year’s Day tradition that organizers last year said they could no longer continue – will be back for another dip.
Semiahmoo Rotary representative Valerie Giles said last week that all five local local Rotary clubs – Peace Arch, Peninsula, Semiahmoo, South Surrey and White Rock – have committed to hosting the 45th annual swim, supported by RCM-SAR5 Crescent Beach, YWCA, Interact, Jimmy Flynn’s and the City of White Rock.
It is to take place at noon Jan. 1, with participants to set out into the chilly waters from near the iconic white rock.
“Rotary did not want this important community event to die after the Lions Club folded,” Rotary District 5050 assistant governor Linda Coyle states in an email.
White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, in Monday’s inaugural address, described the RCM-SAR5 unit as the organizing agency. Unit spokesman Dean Donnelly clarified to Peace Arch News that the crew and its senior leadership at the Semiahmoo Peninsula Marine Rescue Society are working with the city in partnership with Rotary to co-ordinate the operational and marketing plans, “and in doing so lay the groundwork out for the next decade.”
This time last year, there were fears that the 2014 dip would be the city’s last, due to a decline in volunteers, the aging membership of the organizing Peace Arch Monarch Lions Club and the death the year before of longtime event chair Don Miller.
A last-minute reprieve saved the day, and it was estimated that about 700 swimmers took part. Another 2,000 people turned out to watch.
Donnelly said the marine-rescue team has been involved in the swim for the past decade. When the Lions involvement ended, “we all agreed as a station to become dedicated to filling the gap,” he said by email.
Meetings to firm up the details are being held this week, he said.