Lance Romo, recreation coordinator for the city of Bellingham, became involved in the Resolution Run and Padden Polar Dip when swim coach Jim Williams came to the city in 2003 and expressed interest in putting the event together.
“My primary role is to keep it safe, remove waste and give structure to the experience,” Romo says. “A dip on the first is a great alternative to some of the more traditional celebrations that are difficult for families.”
I encourage people to come to watch, but bring a swimsuit, towel and shoes that can get wet — just in case.
Lance Romo, coordinator, Padden Polar Dip
“The water is cold, no getting around that,” Romo says. “It’s worth noting that people exiting the water are smiling; all of them are smiling and a lot of them come back year after year. There’s got to be something to it. I encourage people to come to watch, but bring a swim suit, towel and shoes that can get wet — just in case.”
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He urges the dippers to carpool and to think about their feet.
“Those rocks that are so unpleasant to run on in the summer are even more unpleasant in the winter,” he says. “Wear shoes.”
There will be hot drinks and swag for participants.
Sarah Weightman, executive director of Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and coordinator for the Polar Bear Plunge, says local residents started the Birch Bay event began in 1982 on a dare.
We love our ‘plungers’ as well as our ‘honorary lifeguards’ — our spectators.
Sarah Weightman, coordinator, Polar Bear Plunge
The ritual draws hundreds of people from as far away as Spain, Tokyo and Dubai, as well as thousands of onlookers.
There are prizes for Best Child Costume for those 12 and younger, Most Unique Costume, Best Individual Costume, and Best Group Costume. Sorry, no awards are given for length of time in the water.
“We love our ‘plungers as well as our ‘honorary lifeguards’ — our spectators,” Weightman says. And she adds, “Birch Bay is known for having the warmest waters north of San Diego.”
When: Registration for the Polar Bear Plunge starts at 10 a.m. Jan 1. Costume judging is 11:30 a.m., with plunge at noon
Where: Birch Bay Waterfront, approximately 7900 Birch Bay Drive.
Cost: Free, but advance registration entitles person to “I Took The Plunge” certificate and hot beverages. T-shirts available for purchase.
Details: birchbaychamber.com, 360-371-5004
When: The Resolution Run starts at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1, with the Padden Polar Dip at noon
Where: Lake Padden Park main entrance, 4882 Samish Way
Cost: Free; no registration necessary
Details: cob.org/services/recreation/races/Pages/resolution.aspx, 360-778-7000