Braving the -18 C weather, nearly 30 people came out for the 32nd annual Polar Bear Outdoor Lunch charity at Gus & Tony's at the Park on Portage Avenue on Thursday, says organizer and restaurateur Arnaldo Carreira.

"You never know what you're going to get. Some years it's stormy, some years it's a little more mild. This year, this was mild," he said.

While the temperature plunged into double digits, the low wind and full sun made the weather bearable, said Carreira.

"People say that I'm crazy," he said, "because I wear shorts." 

Polar Bear Outdoor Lunch

Diners braved winter temperatures for the 32nd annual Polar Bear Outdoor Lunch charity at Gus & Tony's at the Park on Portage Avenue, Thursday. (Mike Fazio/CBC)

Carreira estimates Thursday's lunch raised close to $3,000 for Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

The Polar Bear Outdoor Lunch started in January 1984, Carreira said, when a warm spell prompted the idea to eat lunch on his former restaurant's patio, he said.

Since then Carreira has continued the tradition and says there are regulars who come year after year.

"I have a gentleman, he's 83 years old. He's come to the last, probably, 15 years," he said.

For people who come to the lunch every year, the event has become a signal spring is around the corner, said Carreira. 

"People have fun, they enjoy it," he said.

Polar Bear Lunch 2

Close to $3,000 was raised at the Polar Bear Outdoor Lunch which took place at Gus & Tony's at the Park Thursday. (CBC)