They came, they drank beer and they plunged — participants in the fourth annual Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge, that is — running from the 27-degree air temperature at Brackett’s Landing straight into the 42-degree waters of Puget Sound. (And a few minutes later, heading to Rory’s and Dimitri’s to warm up with more beer and food.)
The festivities began at 11 a.m. New Year’s Day. Daphnes owner Brian Taylor — dressed in white terry cloth robe and fur-trimmed hat — began welcoming members of the Edmonds Uplift Society as they arrived to claim their own robes, supplied for the $100 initial membership fee plus $25 yearly thereafter. The fee covers the cost of annual embroidery to commemorate each year’s event, plus a 24-ounce Rainier Beer. Robes feature separate embroidered logos for men and women, each designed by Edmonds artist David Marty.
Among the familiar faces ready to dive in were Ruth Arista of Arista Wine Cellars, Valerie Claypool of Keller-Williams Realty and Carolyn Lafave, communications director for the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. Claypool’s strategy for this year’s plunge — the coldest of the four years? Wool socks underneath her Teva sandals, to keep her feet warm. But she figured that the cold sunny weather was better than her experience in 2009: “There were whitecaps on the water and it was really rough,” she said.
Of course, anyone — member or not — was invited to participate. Edmonds resident Paul Gorgen was there because he had sponsored a similar Polar Bear Plunge event in Richmond Beach when he was owner of The Cabin Tavern, but the tradition ended when he sold the business in 2004. “I read about this and thought it would be fun to do it again,” he said.
Aside from the pure camaraderie of joining others for a Puget Sound dip in the dead of winter, the event benefits a worthy cause: The proceeds remaining after the robes and embroidery are purchased actually go to the Edmonds Historical Society. In fact, it was a photo dug from the historical society archives — revealing a past Edmonds Uplift Society — that now hangs on Daphnes wall and inspired the creation of the current organization and its annual Polar Bear Plunge.
And at 12:45 p.m., as the group finished their beers and made the walk from Daphnes to Brackett’s Landing, Daphnes co-owner (and Taylor’s wife) Louise Favier proudly displayed the $500 check that they were able to donate to this year’s cause.