Ice storm puts freeze on annual Hamilton Polar Bear Dip

Ice banks on the beach render the conditions unsafe for bathers, organizers say.

Ice banks on beach render conditions unsafe for bathers, organizers say

One of the hundreds of Courage Polar Bear dippers makes his way out of Lake Ontario at Coronation Park in Oakville on Jan. 1, 2013. The Hamilton dip has been cancelled this year because of ice. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

December's ice storm has put a freeze on another holiday tradition.

The annual Jan. 1 Polar Bear Dip at Hutch’s on the Beach has been cancelled.

Ice banks that have formed behind Hutch’s would make crossing into the water potentially dangerous for bathers, said Rick Creechan, the diner’s general manager.

“For safety’s sake, we don’t want to take the chance.”

The yearly event, put on by the East Hamilton Optimist Club, sees dozens of participants plunge into frigid waters and raise money for charity.

Would-be Hamilton swimmers are invited to join the Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville on Wednesday.  

Co-organizer Trent Courage said volunteers have been working to clear ice from the town's Coronation Park (1426 Lakeshore Rd. W.). 

"We had some ice issues at some point ourselves," he said. "Basically, we've been chopping up the ice and we're ready to roll."

Participants may register online or at the event, which starts at 12:30 p.m. Registration costs $25 per person, with some of the proceeds going towards World Vision Canada.

The actual swim is set for 2 p.m. It will be preceded by a costume contest and other festivities,

For more information, go to Polarbeardip.ca.

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