NORDLAND — The rain held off and the sun came out as dozens jumped into the water in front of the Nordland General Store to celebrate the start of 2020.
The Nordland Polar Plunge has been a New Year’s Day tradition for 26 years now, and this year saw 65 people sign up to jump into the 49-degree water at noon Wednesday.
Lining the sides of the water safely dry, about 200 supporters, family members and towel holders watched the swimmers line up and leap into the cold water.
“It’s just a fresh start,” said jumper Kate Worthington. “I’ve never been this invigorated on January 1st.
“This is literally summer weather.”
There was some concern near the start of the event, as it was raining slightly at about 11 a.m., but it soon cleared up and the sun came out for the jump.
Air temperatures were in the low 50s, but some swimmers said it felt more like 60 with the sun.
Some jumpers leaped in and swam back to shore, while others climbed right back onto the dock. Some apparently enjoyed the water, and floated and swam around a bit before leaving the water. Others came back to take the leap for a second or third time.
The annual event was started and run by Sue and Tom Rose, owners of the Nordland General Store. Both were out monitoring the jumpers with clip boards, having people write down their names before taking the plunge.
Sue was happy that the rain cleared up before the jump.
“That was pretty miraculous,” Sue said. “We’ve only had two years with rain. This is perfect.
“It’s just fun watching everyone jump in.”
The largest crowd that Rose had seen jump was in 2000, at the start of the millennium, when more than 180 people jumped off the dock.
“We had to do it in stages. The dock was sinking,” Rose said.
First-timers and veterans got wet during the polar bear plunge.
Laurel Dawson jumped for the first time with her husband, “in solidarity for our daughter in Antarctica,” who is studying climate change there, while working on her doctorate from Stanford University.
This was the fifth time that Kory Christensen had taken the plunge. The Nordland resident, who lives near the store said that he does it because of “the people and the community.”
“It’s starting the year off with a good start,” Christensen said. “The lead up to the jump is my favorite part.”
The event attracts more than locals. Troy Hellickson of Oregon was in Jefferson County visiting friends for New Year’s and decided to take the leap with his granddaughter.
“This is my first official polar plunge,” Hellickson said before jumping in, describing a prior instance of breaking ice in his cabin’s swimming pool one year to jump in at a previous New Year’s celebration.
“I’m excited to see my granddaughter’s reaction to the jump.”
Elsewhere on the North Olympic Peninsula, about 100 people plunged into Port Angeles harbor at Hollywood Beach at 10 a.m. Wednesday, while four people braved the chilly water of Lake Pleasant near Beaver. Another nearby plunge was at in Hamma Hamma on the Hood Canal.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]