Hundreds splash with Polar Bear members
January 2, 2007 10:22am CST
NEW YORK - Hundreds of people bravely splashed into cold ocean waters to start the new year Monday, but one man ended up in a hospital. The man was not a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club but was merely one of the 200 or so people who joined the 80 members to take the annual plunge into the 48-degree Atlantic Ocean waters, club spokesman Louie Scarcella said. The 32-year-old man, whose identity wasn't released, was injured when he dived into shallow waters, police said. He was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where a spokesman said he was in stable condition and was undergoing examinations. The annual swim, or dip, belly flop or slow submersion, depending upon the person, raised $25,000 for Camp Sunshine, a retreat providing relief to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The club had hoped to raise more than $50,000, although its take was well in excess of the $6,000 or so raised last year, Scarcella noted. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States, according to its Web site. Its members swim in the Atlantic at Coney Island every Sunday from October through April. About 500 people participated in last year's New Year's Day swim, which benefited a different charity, and Scarcella blamed bad weather for the poorer turnout this year."It's psychological, I think," he said. "Some people don't like the rain."