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Thousands celebrate New Year in Lake George's icy waters

Drawn by balmy temperatures to the annual Lake George New Year's Day Polar Plunge, about 2,000 revelers took to the 34-degree lakewaters in three waves of swimmers.

Drawn by balmy temperatures to the annual Lake George New Year's Day Polar Plunge, about 2,000 revelers took to the 34-degree lakewaters in three waves of swimmers. Tim Weatherwax/One Shot Photography

— About 2,000 swimmers charged into the frigid waters Sunday on New Year's Day, following a decades-long community tradition of welcoming in the new year with a polar swim.

The event drew people from all over the region, many of whom donned a variety of unusual clothing or costumes, heightening the revelry associated with the event.

Swimmers were seen not only in swim trunks or bikinis, but wearing Viking helmets, or disguised as a duo of ketchup ad mustard bottles. Another couple was costumed as Dorothy and Toto of The Wizard of Oz.

Tim Christensen of Schuylerville was garbed as Fred Flintstone. He watched others, near-naked, stand shivering on Shepard Park beach waiting for the signal to take a plunge.

“This event is ridiculous, senseless and silly, but thank God it's not yet illegal,” he said.

One man, Tush Nikollaj, founder and CEO of LogicalNet of Schenctady, chalked up a first for the polar swim -- he was dressed in his office clothes.

Nikollaj wore a pin-striped worsted wool Armani suit, Italian leather shoes and dark sunglasses when he ran into the frigid lakewaters and took a dive, then dashed out again, soaked from head to heels.

This top executive of the computer web hosting firm talked as if his plunging getup was merely routine.

“It's invigorating and a fantastic way to start the new year – If you're dressed well,” he said. “I do everything in a fine suit: fish, paint and swim – and my dry cleaner loves me.”

While many said they'd waited all year for this event, others were coerced to attend.

Mike and Stephanie, a couple from Malta, said that polar swimming in Lake George was on their “bucket list.” But their teen offspring, Matthew and Meredith, were dragged to the event, Matthew claimed as he stood shivering, waiting for the second wave of swimmers to take a mass plunge.

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