What do New Year’s Day, beer, bathrobes and history have in common? Well, if you’re in Edmonds, those are the elements of our town’s own Polar Bear Plunge, which celebrates its fourth year this Saturday at Brackett’s Landing.
The festivities start at 11 a.m. at Daphnes, 415 1/2 Main St., where members of the Edmonds Uplift Society begin plunge preparations, highlighted by a 12:30 p.m. Rainier Beer Toast to original Uplift Society members.
At 12:45 pm., participants clad in embroidered robes march down Main Street to Brackett’s Landing. The plunge begins promptly at 1 p.m., followed by the after-party at Rory’s at 1:01 p.m.
So where does the history come in? Daphnes owner Brian Taylor said that shortly before he opened his bar, he approached Joni Sein, then director of the Edmonds Museum, asking for Edmonds historical photos — in particular, those related to drinking — to hang on the wall of his establishment. “A short time later, she called me to tell me she had found a great photo of the Edmonds Uplift Society (circa 1932) where the fellas were drinking root beer,” Taylor said in an email. Closer examination revealed that the root beer was actually Rainier Beer, and the photo became the focal point for one of the bar’s walls.
“Over the first year when I did all the shifts behind the bar, a number of patrons commented on the photo and the name, ‘Edmonds Uplift Society,’ Taylor said. “Prior to opening Daphnes Edmonds, I lived in New York City for 20 years and participated in the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim, in which thousands run into the Atlantic Ocean each year on New Year’s Day. Once I knew I was going to miss the New York swim, an alternative Edmonds swim seemed like a good idea–and like most brilliant ideas, the details were hatched with a few regulars over a ‘few’ beers.”
Members of the Edmonds Uplift Society pay $100 for initial membership, which includes an embroidered Edmonds Uplift Society Robe, a membership card, and a 24-ounce Rainier Beer. (Existing members pay $25 yearly to cover the cost of the additional embroidery.) All proceeds beyond the cost of the robes are donated to the Edmonds Historical Society. Daphnes donates the space, cards and Rainier Beer, and also adds a modest amount to get the total donation to an even number.The donation has ranged from $200-$400 over the years, and Taylor is hoping to raise $500 this year.
“The individuals who officially sign up and pay get the robe, a snazzy EUS card which gets you absolutely nothing, and most importantly, prime real estate in Daphnes Bar, when we do our Rainier Beer toast to the original EUS and sing God Bless America before marching to the beach,” Taylor said. About 30 people are officially registered for the event, although anyone is welcome to join the group at Daphnes, march to the beach and swim, he added.