Make way for polar bears

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New Year’s Day plunges set in AC, Ventnor, Margate

The 2013 Ventnor Polar Bear Plunge shirts feature graphics by Noel Echevarria of the Pleasantville-based screen printer Demario Design. The 2013 Ventnor Polar Bear Plunge shirts feature graphics by Noel Echevarria of the Pleasantville-based screen printer Demario Design.

VENTNOR – Hundreds of native and migrant polar bears are expected to descend on local beaches and dive into the Atlantic Ocean Tuesday, Jan. 1 to ring in the New Year.

Polar bear plunges will be held in Atlantic City, Ventnor and Margate.

Beginning at 11 a.m. the Atlantic City Polar Bear Club will meet on the beach in front of Resorts Casino Hotel, 1133 Boardwalk. The plunge happens at noon. This year, the club is accepting donations and selling T-shirts to support the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Event certificates will be given to those who go completely underwater. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Michael Kahlenberg at (215) 757-3564 or (267) 566-4649.

In Margate, polar bears will begin gathering 11:45 a.m. at Essex Avenue beach for the plunge at noon hosted by Robert’s Place.

T-shirts and long-sleeve T-shirts will be for sale at Robert’s, which will hold pre- and post-plunge parties at 7807 Atlantic Ave. Robert’s opens at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

For eight years, Ventnor resident Mike Wiesen has been leading the plunge at 1 p.m. at Newport Avenue Beach in his hometown.

“Hopefully we’ll catch one of those really nice days that we’ve had in past years,” Wiesen said.

People begin preparing on the beach at 12:45 p.m., and Wiesen said there are more each year.

“Every year it seems to get a little bigger,” He said. “Everybody’s invited – dogs, families, kids, everybody. Even if you don’t want to jump in, it’s more fun watching people jump in than jumping in.”

Wiesen first took the plunge 15 years ago at Essex Avenue in Margate at the event hosted by Robert’s Place.

“It’s crazy,” Wiesen said. “Almost anybody can do it; almost anyone can sustain the pain threshold for 15 minutes. Then, at least you can say you did something crazy once in your life.”

After the plunge, there is a Chili Plunge in the community building on Newport Avenue where residents are invited to cook up a pot of their finest to help their brave neighbors warm up. Call Wiesen at AAAA Bike Shop, (609) 487-0808 to register the type of chili

As in years past, proceeds from long-sleeve T-shirts ($15) and sweatshirts ($35) help provide uniforms and equipment for Ventnor baseball and softball teams. The money also funds the annual Ventnor Recreation Department trip to Yankee stadium for youth ballplayers.

“Even if it’s cold, come out and watch if you change your mind about going in,” Wiesen encouraged. “The more the merrier.”

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