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Polar Bear Plunge
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Turkewitz

The Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge is not happening this year

You can donate to the cause and get Coney Island Polar Bear memorabilia instead.

Collier Sutter
Written by
Collier Sutter

Every New Years Day for 116 years, brave New Yorkers in their underwear run headlong into icy waters at Coney Island for their first act of the new year.

Swimmers sporting their skivvies or crazy costumes do so to symbolically "wash away" the previous year. While that sounds perfect for 2020 this year, the long-standing tradition won't be happening due to the pandemic.

"With the ongoing concerns regarding mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to cancel what would have been the 117th annual New Year's Day plunge," the organizers wrote in a statement.

The event typically brings thousands of swimmers to Coney Island in the name of charity each year.

In an effort to keep the inspiration behind the event going and continue donating to the Coney Island community this holiday season, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has joined with the Alliance for Coney Island to open a fundraising platform.

While supporters won't be stripping down into their bathing suit and take a running leap into the freezing ocean this January, you can still donate through the online fundraiser.

"We can show our commitment by purchasing 2021 Coney Island Polar Bear memorabilia designed by illustrator Paula Cohen and making a donation to help ensure the growth and livelihood of this iconic destination and neighborhood," the organization wrote. 

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