Prizes will be handed out for best costumes at the Polar Bear Swim. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Are you b-r-r-r-r-ave enough to take a Jan. 1 dip in the Alberni Inlet?

Annual PEAK Port Alberni Polar Bear Swim takes place at 1 p.m. at Canal Waterfront Park

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

Organizers of the PEAK 93.3 FM Port Alberni Polar Bear Swim are hoping several hundred people will think this is a good idea, and come down to Canal Waterfront Park on Jan. 1, 2018 to take that dip at 1 p.m.

“One thing we’re working on getting is a warming tent this year,” said Karen Freethy from the city’s Parks, Recreation and Heritage department. “We’ve had (one) in years past but we haven’t for a few years.”

She urged participants to register before they go into the water. The Bread of Life has found sponsors that will donate $2 for every swimmer that registers and goes into the water, so it’s important to have an official way of verifying the number of swimmers, she said.

Swimmers can pre-register at Echo Centre Dec. 27–29. The centre will be closed on New Year’s Day, so swimmers who haven’t pre-registered will have to come to the site early—before 12:45 p.m.—to register.

Prizes will be handed out for best team and individual costumes and oldest swimmer.

This year, Parks and Rec have come up with a commemorative keepsake lanyard for every registered swimmer.

“It’s kind of a keepsake,” Freethy said.

There is plenty of room at the park for spectators who want to share in the fun, but don’t want to get wet.

The Kiwanis food bus will be on hand with hamburgers, hotdogs, coffee and hot chocolate. “We’ll have a bonfire and there will be roasting sticks so people can just roast marshmallows—we are providing the marshmallows,” Freethy said.

Parks and Rec staff have been working on Canal Waterfont Park, and have installed the cement pad for a wooden shelter much like those found at Blair Park and Rogers Creek Park. “The Canal Park area is looking good right now,” Freethy said. “City staff have done a good job down there.”

Members of the Alberni Valley Rescue Society will do a safety check of the Canal Park shoreline and water prior to the Polar Bear Swim to ensure there are no sharp objects in the water. They will also be on site, as will the Royal Canadian Marine—Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR 39) team and the fireboat to ensure swimmers’ safety.

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