P.E.I. polar dips go ahead despite chilly weather

More than 60 people took part in the P.E.I. Polar Bear Dip in Charlottetown this morning despite some very chilly temperatures. There was also a dip under the falls of a dam in Millvale.

Temperatures were -21 with wind chill in Charlottetown

It was a frigid day for a dip in the Charlottetown Harbour, but dozens of Islanders lined up to do just that Monday. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

At least two polar bear dips in Prince Edward Island went ahead as planned on New Year's Day despite some very chilly temperatures.

More than 60 people took part in Charlottetown's annual icy plunge, which kicked off at 10 a.m. by the Charlottetown Yacht Club, at the foot of Pownal Street. 

According to Environment Canada, temperatures were hovering around –13.5 C, or –21 C with the wind chill. 

Organizers had to cut a hole in the ice and allowed one person at a time to get in and out. The water is about 1.2 metres — or four feet — deep.

To be "certified," dippers must immerse themselves to the neck, according to the P.E.I. Polar Bear Club, which hosted the event.

'It's a great tradition and now our kids are participating with us,' says Chantal Chanell-Walsh of the dip at the dam in Millvale. (Submitted by Chantal Chanell-Walsh)

"It went great," said volunteer organizer Cheryl Paynter. "Mission accomplished!"

What motivates plungers?

People are seeking an adrenaline rush to start their new year, Paynter suggested

"It's a nice way to start off the year," she said. "And it's tradition for a lot of people."

Besides being a fun way to kick off a new year, the event is a fundraiser: participants brought food items or cash donations for the local food bank. 

Dip at the dam

Meanwhile, in Millvale, about a half-hour away from Charlottetown, about 20 people gathered to splash around in the ice-cold falls at the local dam.

'It's tradition for a lot of people,' says organizer Cheryl Paynter of the annual P.E.I. Polar Bear Dip. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)
 

"Some years, the falls are so powerful it feels like is going split our heads — but it only last a few seconds," said participant Chantal Chanell-Walsh.

"It's a great tradition and now our kids are participating with us."