BAR HARBOR, Maine — The water off Acadia National Park was only a few degrees warmer than the air Sunday morning as a few dozen hardy individuals dove into the Atlantic as part of the annual New Year’s Day polar plunge at Sand Beach.
Husband and wife Doug Foster and Meredith Randolph made the short drive from nearby Somesville to celebrate the New Year with a refreshing dip in the 41-degree water just after 10 a.m. Shivering but smiling back at his towel, Foster was thrilled with his first New Year’s plunge at Acadia.
“Cold but exhilarating,” Foster said. “It is a great rush, though.”
Randolph, meanwhile, is a veteran polar bear. Not only has she participated in the Acadia event numerous times, during college she took a weekly dip in the icy waters near Ithaca, N.Y., as part of a club at Cornell University.
“It really helps boost your immune system,” Randolph said.
The annual event at Acadia is an informal affair that attracts mostly locals but also a few visitors to the area. Although the event is not sponsored by Acadia National Park, park rangers were on hand to monitor the swim.
The air temperature in Bar Harbor was relatively mild 35 degrees Sunday morning, although wind gusts added some bite to exposed, wet skin.
Sunday was 11-year-old Ava Drennan’s second time taking the polar plunge at Sand Beach and actually her second time getting wet in 2012 after having dipped her feet in the water just after midnight. Even so, the Bar Harbor resident — like many people at Sand Beach on Sunday — summed up the experience with one word: freezing.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Drennan’s friend, 11-year-old Corinne Simis, said after she had covered herself head-to-toe in fleece.
Acadia National Park wasn’t the only place in Maine this holiday weekend where people decided to cool off in a winter day with a dip in the ocean. More than 100 people took to the waters off Portland on Saturday as part of the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s annual Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser.
Organizers said the plunge and preceding 5-kilometer run/walk was expected to raise $16,000 for NRCM programs and activities targeting pollution that contributes to global warming.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.