Jordan Newberry, recreation programmer with City of Port Alberni Parks, Recreation and Heritage department, checks out Canal Waterfront Park in anticipation of the annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Jordan Newberry, recreation programmer with City of Port Alberni Parks, Recreation and Heritage department, checks out Canal Waterfront Park in anticipation of the annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Take a dip on Jan. 1 with Port Alberni’s annual Polar Bear Swim

New Year’s Day swim takes place at Canal Waterfront Park

What better way to ring in a new year than by taking a frigid dip in the Alberni Inlet?

The organizers of Port Alberni’s annual Polar Bear Swim think so!

The swim takes place Jan. 1 at Canal Waterfront Park. Swimmers will run for the water at 1 p.m., but spectators are encouraged to join the party earlier than that. There will be a DJ on site with music, the fire pit will be roaring and there will be marshmallows provided for those who would like to roast them, said John Douglas, one of the event organizers.

The covered gazebo built by parks and rec staff last year will be a welcome respite for some.

Swimmers can register up until 12:45 p.m. There will be prizes for best costume, best dressed team and the most senior swimmer. CBI has signed on as a sponsor, and will donate a twoonie for everyone who registers to the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

The Uptown Merchants of Port Alberni are sponsoring the Bread of Life at the Polar Bear Swim, offering to pay a twoonie for every registered swimmer, according to Pamela Day. “In addition, for those spectators who are not going in the water, the Bread of Life will have its ‘bucket brigade’ out for your twoonie donation,” she said.

Parking will be at a premium, so swimmers and spectators alike are encouraged to come down to Canal Waterfront Park earlier than later.

Waiver forms are available at Echo Centre during operational hours. Swimmers are encouraged to register beforehand.

“Everybody who registers will be getting a medallion on a lanyard, with the year stamped on it so people can collect them,” Douglas said.

Douglas will be greeting people at the top of the hill wearing his tuxedo. The Alberni Valley Radio Club will assist with parking.

Canal Waterfront Park is located at 2120 Plywood Drive, at the end of Third Avenue, well past Argyle Street. Follow the signs to the parking lot.

editor@albernivalleynews.com