Two participants in the Nordland Polar Plunge jump off the dock in front of the Nordland General Store to celebrate the new year in 2020. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Two participants in the Nordland Polar Plunge jump off the dock in front of the Nordland General Store to celebrate the new year in 2020. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Nordland polar bear plunge both traditional and unofficial

Freezing temperatures raise the bar

NORDLAND — The polar bear plunge into Mystery Bay on New Year’s Day is not being promoted this year — not officially, that is.

But “you can’t really stop it,” said Tom Rose, owner of the Nordland General Store and longtime host of the bone-chilling event.

“Bring your suit,” he told a reporter who inquired about the 2022 plunge, which, as is tradition, will happen at noon Saturday, from the dock across the street from the general store at 7180 Flagler Road.

On Jan. 1 of this year, at least a half-dozen hardy souls jumped into the bay, swam, treaded water and leaped out again as spectators looked on, impressed.

So this Saturday’s immersion will be the second New Year’s Day plunge in the wake of the fire that gutted the Nordland General Store Nov. 5, 2020.

Rose and his wife Sue have owned the market, essentially Marrowstone Island’s community center, since 1994.

Rebuilding has begun, Rose said this week.

Drywall is being installed and “progress is being made,” he said, although it’s slow.

Rose, 71, said he might like to find a younger person to take over the general store.

He added that investigators have told him a lithium battery charger was the cause of the devastating fire.

As for the 2022 plunge, he acknowledged it could be an especially cold one.

The wind is a bitter factor, he said.

Sue added she and her husband may have to clear snow off the wooden dock that serves as a platform for the swimmers.

Clallam County

The two polar bear dips planned in Clallam County are set for 10 a.m., one at Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles and the other at Lake Pleasant in Beaver.

In Beaver, dippers will take the plunge into the West End lake from the shore of the Lake Pleasant Community Beach County Park.

The was no ice on the lake as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Carin Hirsch, the plunge organizer.

The plunge was once from the boat launch, but that fell victim to November’s floods.

During the Port Angeles plunge, volunteers from the nearby Red Lion Hotel and Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County (VHOCC) will be on site with complimentary hot beverages and pastries.

The annual dip is a fundraiser for Volunteer Hospice, and several staff members are challenging the community to get them to take the plunge or get drenched by buckets of ice water.

Among them are the Nurse Report team (made of nurses from VHOCC but open to any nursing professional), which includes Betsy Wharton, a registered nurse and the nursing manager for the free hospice service, as well as Lori Jacobs, longtime volunteer, and Astrid Raffinpeyloz, volunteer services manager.

The VHOCC booth will offer information about volunteer opportunities and how to donate. Currently 150 volunteers, a clinical staff of 10, and a small administrative staff of four serve a patient base averaging 120, plus many more clients in the grief support programs.

The hospice service also operates a lending closet of medical equipment available to anyone in the community.

All services provided by VHOCC are free of charge

Donations to VHOCC can be made online (specify Polar Bear Dip in the “Anything else” section), by mail, at the office on the corner of Eighth and Race streets, or at the dip itself.

For ideas on “how to make the dipping experience more comfortable and less shocking,” call the hospice office at 360-452-1511.

________

Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.

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