NORDLAND — These polar bears needed no organized dip to celebrate the brand-new year.
Wind and drizzle be darned, they went ahead and jumped into the bay outside the Nordland General Store. Post-splash they burst back up, smiles wide, eyes wider.
“It’s a full-body freeze,” Laura Rogers of Port Hadlock announced after her Friday afternoon immersion.
Her brother Jonny Rogers and friend Sam Golden also took the plunge, shirtless — twice.
Next in: Brian Gordon of Port Townsend, who leapt off the wooden dock into the bracing water and then swam fast to shore.
These four arrived shortly after the first noontime dippers, Capt. Jeff Sanders and his friend Laurie Darleen, who’s visiting from the Big Island of Hawaii.
Tom Rose, owner of the Nordland store, grinned as he welcomed the swimmers plus a dozen bundled-up spectators.
Traditionally the Marrowstone Island polar bear dip is held at noon Jan. 1, drawing scores of people who go all the way in.
But after a fire severely damaged the store Nov. 5, this year’s event was canceled — at least officially.
A stream of islanders stopped by the store, shuttered since the fire, to wish Rose a happy new year. And a handful arrived early for their dips: four got their plunges out of the way well before the others came at noon.
“There was a guy and his dog, and the dog wouldn’t jump in,” Rose reported.
The Nordland General Store, a community center for islanders, will reopen, he said.
“It’s going to be a long process … I’m 70 years old,” but “we’re going to rebuild for sure.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]