Jacksonport, Wis. (December 22, 2021) – The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club is once again preparing to take their annual plunge into Lake Michigan at 12 noon on Saturday January 1, 2022. After canceling last year’s event, organizers are playfully calling the upcoming plunge the 35th and 36th annual swim.
Since 1986, the Jacksonport Polar Bear Club has celebrated the New Year by going for an icy dip into Lake Michigan at Lakeside Park in Jacksonport along Door County Wisconsin’s eastern coast. More than 500 swimmers are expected to take the plunge during the group’s upcoming annual event, which puts this polar bear swim among the largest in the country.
The swim will be held precisely at 12 noon central time, with the crowd favorite 10 second countdown preceding a massive influx of swimmers into the lake.
Registration at Lakeside Park in Jacksonport will begin around 10:30 AM on New Year’s Day. Registration for all swimmers will take place in the park shelter closest to the lake. While the event is free, all swimmers are asked to sign a liability release form before participating in the event. Forms will be available at the registration pavilion or swimmers can save time by downloading the form to fill out ahead of time at JacksonportPolarBearClub.com and simply drop it off the day of the event.
A variety of Jacksonport Polar Bear Club merchandise, including t-shirts, hats and other items will be available for purchase at the registration pavilion. Jacksonport Polar Bear Club certificates of achievement will also be available for free to all swimmers when they register.
The club first started in Jacksonport in 1986 with one swimmer, J.R. Jarosh. It wasn’t until 1989 that the number tripled from one to three swimmers, including Heidi Hodges, a local reporter and fellow fan of cold water swimming whose participation helped provide substantial media coverage for the event in the early years. The club has seen substantial growth since then, and in 2010 an estimated 900 swimmers went in. After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, excitement is high for the exhilarating event to take place again on New Year’s Day.
“We look forward to getting back into the lake this New Year’s Day after playing it safe last year,” said club founder J.R. Jarosh, who was 14 years old the first year he ventured into an icy Lake Michigan back in 1986. “To get people back together on the beach and help usher in 2022 in a festive, inviting outdoor setting along the shores of Lake Michigan, it just doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.
Jarosh said to celebrate this year’s swim, “we are encouraging people to go in twice if they’d like, to make up for missing last year. Let’s make it a fun and energetic scene on the beach and bring in the New Year with a splash,” he laughed. As always, costumes are welcomed and encouraged, but not required.
Music on the beach will be provided by Loud Entertainment DJ Service. People attending should listen for announcements on the beach leading up to and during the event. Spectators are asked to stay outside of the yellow taped areas on the beach, which are designated for swimmers only.
Donation buckets will be available at the registration table, with all proceeds going to the Jacksonport Volunteer Fire Department.