Dorchester polar dip goes ahead - but in an outdoor pool instead of icy pond

·2 min read

The annual Dorchester New Year's Day polar dip went ahead this year, but thin ice meant staying off Palmers Pond.

"In 28 years, this is the first time we've had to use the firemen's reservoir rather than the ice on the pond," said Dan Matthews, secretary of the Dorchester Lions Club.

The club holds the event with the fire department in the community southeast of Moncton.

The reservoir, similar to an above ground pool with waist deep water, is normally used by firefighters at fire scenes to hold water.

Sixteen people made the plunge, along with two firefighters.

It was the first time for Chris Goguen, who was the first to jump in.

"With the year we had last year, I think kicking off 2021 with a bang - I think this is the way to do it," Goguen said. He described it as refreshing and cold.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

The techniques to get into the water varied.

Most jumped feet first. One rolled sideways, while another person belly flopped into the water.

Some people wore costumes, including a shark's fin, for the brief dip.

Andy Quinlan said his approach was just to jump in as quickly as possible.

"I don't really consider it a dip unless you get your head under," Quinlan said.

He said the worst part was the metal ladder that had to be climbed to get out of the pool.

Some years have been more frigid. This year, it was sunny and around -1 C.

Quinlan said it was either his fifth or sixth time. While the pool and face masks because of COVID-19 were different this year, he said it was still the same atmosphere and great people.

"It's a blast, the best way to bring in the new year, cleanse all the old away and start fresh in a brand new year," he said.

[The year] 2020 was such a horrendous year we figured there's bound to be lots of people who need a release," Matthews said.

The event is a fundraiser. Matthews said some of the money raised will go to a sports club in nearby Sackville and the rest for a Lions Club bursary and other community services. The total raised wasn't available immediately after the event.

About 75 people watched the event, which began shortly after 12:30 p.m. and ended only a few minutes later. Organizers kept lists of attendees and contact information for contact tracing if that's required.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC