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Friends mark 38 years of Polar Bear Swim

Last Updated Jan 2, 2017 at 11:52 am PST

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 Photo)

Thousands took to the freezing water for the annual Polar Bear Swim

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – January. 1, 2017 marks 38 years since John Pentland and Chris Arcari shook hands, dressed as Santa Claus and Rudolph and plunged into English Bay as part of the annual Vancouver Polar Bear Swim.

“Did it in university and we shook hands and said we’d do it forever,” Arcari says with a laugh. “Truth be told there might have been some alcohol and mind altering things involved at that point.”

Friends and family soon joined in, turning one reindeer into a full blown herd of more than 30 cardboard-antlered swimmers. Their children took the plunge when they were one year old and, now in their twenties, they continue to join their dads.

“Now it’s next generation. There’s a nice succession plan,” Arcari says, adding despite the cold water, they hope to keep the tradition alive for many years to come.

The group joined several thousand people to mark the 97th annual polar dip tradition. All the proceeds from the event go to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

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