JACKSONPORT, Wis. (WFRV) – The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club is preparing its annual plunge into Lake Michigan and organizers are saying it’s both the 35th and 36th swim due to being canceled last year.
“We are encouraging people to go in twice if they’d like, to make up for missing last year. Let’s make it a fun and energetic scene on the beach and bring in the New Year with a splash,” said club founder J.R. Jarosh.
According to a release, the club has always tried to celebrate the New Year by going for an icy dip into Lake Michigan at Lakeside Park in Jacksonport since 1986.
Organizers say more than 500 swimmers are expected to take the plunge during the group’s upcoming free event, which they say puts this polar bear swim among the largest in the country.
“We look forward to getting back into the lake this New Year’s Day after playing it safe last year,” said Jarosh. “To get people back together on the beach and help usher in 2022 in a festive, inviting outdoor setting along the shores of Lake Michigan, it just doesn’t get much better than that.”
If you are looking to go for a quick dip, the swim is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at noon.
What to know before you go
Registration at Lakeside Park in Jacksonport is scheduled to begin around 10:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The registration area will be in the park shelter closest to the lake.
Organizers remind everyone that swimmers will need to sign a liability release form before participating. Forms will be available online or at the registration pavilion.
People attending are asked to listen for announcements on the beach leading up to and during the event and anyone who wants to watch has to stay outside of the yellow taped areas on the beach, which are designated for swimmers only.
If you feel the need to donate, organizers say donation buckets will be available at the registration table, with all proceeds going to the Jacksonport Volunteer Fire Department.
Marine mammal merch
A variety of Jacksonport Polar Bear Club merchandise, including t-shirts, hats and other items will be available for purchase at the registration pavilion, says Polar Bear personnel.
Jacksonport Polar Bear Club certificates of achievement will also be available for free to all swimmers when they register.
As always, organizers say costumes are welcomed and encouraged, but not required.