Swimmers braving the frigid temperatures during the Lake George New Year’s Day Polar Plunge event dash from the lake after a brief swim. Event organizers said they were pleased with the turnout despite the cold weather.
Photo by Thom Randall.
LAKE GEORGE For many, charging into the frigid waters of Lake George during the village’s annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge is a matter of bravado.
This year, the 900 or so diving into the lake truly earned their bragging rights, considering that the prevailing temperatures were far colder than in recent years.
A smaller but more courageous crowd than in 2010, 2011 or 2012 dove into Lake George during the annual rite of revelry, a long-standing local tradition that for years has drawn 1,200 to 2,000 people.
Temperatures of about 18 degrees fahrenheit and a wind-chill factor occasionally below zero degrees apparently cut down the number of swimmers, as only 900 or so people registered for the plunge.
Waiting in a long line to register were Tonya Chaplin, Eliza Shepard, Jessica Dickinson, and their friends Jen and Adrian of Troy — a group of paramedics and EMS personnel in the Capital Region dressed in swimsuits and polar-bear headgear.
“You only live once,” Chaplin said when asked why she recruited her friends for the frigid dip.
“We’ll probably only be alive until we jump into that water,” Shepard retorted.
“It took lots of hand-warmers — and alcohol — to get up the nerve to do this,” Dickinson joked.
Standing beside them garbed in a thick parka was their friend Ralph Southworth.
“These girls are insane — I’d never do it,” he said. “I just came along to provide moral support.”
Absent from the plunge were the myriad costumes that so many sported in past years. No ketchup and mustard bottles, no Fred Flintstone, no Dorothy & Toto or other bizarre getups.
One exception was Steve Silver, who was among a group of former students of Hudson Valley Community College Psychology Professor John Ostwald. Silver was one of two of the alumni dressed up in a pink tutu, pink-fringed hat and similarly-shaded shaggy leg-warmers.