'A blank slate' for 2021: Hundreds participate in polar dip

·3 min read

SAINT JOHN • When the clock struck noon on New Year's Day, hundreds of people jumped into the freeing cold ocean waters of Mispec Beach. It was a clear day but clearly winter; the temperature was just below freezing.

The Mispec Beach Polar Dip been a tradition that had gone on for at least 20 years if not more, said some brave participants. The past year hasn't changed that.

"It's folklore at this point," said Blake Johnston, who jumped into the water just after noon. He was there with two other friends, Maddie Tees and Rob Mackin, who had decided to do the polar dip the night before. With little preparation, they brought their towels and drove to the beach for the "total fresh start."

Mackin said it's the best way to start going after your new year's resolutions.

"It's almost like a complete blank slate for the new year and you can kind of come and wash off your old year and start off with a new one," he said.

Mackin said getting dry was the worst part but everyone can do the polar dip if they put their minds to it.

"It's nothing that's too crazy. Bit of a shock though."

Tees said she did this almost every year when she was younger. Now an adult, she said this is her first doing it of her own choice.

"It's something like adventurous to do on the first day too, to get on a roll."

Saint John residents Alicia Killam and Tom Koval said the buildup to the moment was worse than the moment itself. It was their first time doing the polar dip. Koval heard about the dip from his brother who he said had done it for the past three years.

"The whole time looking at the water for like 10 minutes straight it was definitely a mind-chilling idea." Killam said.

As soon as my feet hit the water, it kind of just was a blackout. And we're just under the water. Frozen. And ran out. And then I was like, 'Wow, that wasn't too bad.'"

Unfortunately Killam's flip flops fell off her feet so she had to spend more time in the waves searching for them.

"2020 was the year everybody wanted everything to go out with the tide," she said.

She said the weather was as good as it could get this year, as well, at a chilling -1 degree Celcius. She was also glad the tide was in so nobody had to run too far to jump into the waves.

Both said after this they will be ready to spend some time recovering.

"We'll go get a nice lunch, something warm," said Koval.

"Anything warm would sound good," said Killam.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada.

Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal