Hundreds Take Plunge in Annual SPI Polar Bear Dip

Some of the humans and canines that took a dip on a South Padre beach on New Year’s Day. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Some 750 polar bears took a dip on a South Padre Island beach and many of them ran out as soon as they hit the cold waters typical during this time of year.

The bears were actually humans of many sizes and ages that participated in the 21st annual celebration to bid goodbye to the previous year by washing off whatever impurities they had on them.

A sea of people, some wearing skimpy outfits, leggings, Santa and freak hats, broke through a yellow plastic tape after a bell rang and ran toward the beach right after noon on Tuesday, Jan.1.

Some of them could be seen hopping in the waves while others were shivering as they walked out shaking their heads.

But as the New Year’s Day temperature was above the 60- degree mark, others said it was nothing like 2018 when the thermometer did not reach 40 degrees.

“This is nice,” said John Jensen as he and his wife Eva waited for the bell. “It was much colder last year.”

The Austin couple said this is their fifth time to participate in the annual Polar Bear Dip hosted by Clayton’s Beach Bar & Grill.

Event organizers said they had 750 people registered to take the dip, or about twice compared to the number of participants in 2018.

They attributed the increase to better weather conditions even though cooler days preceded the event.

Among the many participants were the Palacios family of Pharr.

“We are 15 altogether,” said Melissa Palacios, “and many of us have been taking the dip for a number of years.”

Her aunt, Cindy Palacios of Dallas, was with the group.

She said she spends the holiday down here and joins them in the polar dip.

“This has now become part of our family tradition,” she said. ”It’s a lot of fun.”

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