Plunging into the New Year: Hundreds take a dip in Lake Coeur d’Alene

People brave cold water at Lake Coeur d'Alene
Copyright KXLY 4 News Now.

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Hundreds rang in the new year – and new decade – by jumping into a frigid Lake Coeur d’Alene.

It was the annual Polar Bear Plunge. People of all ages from all over took a dip in the cold water for fun.

The sound of the waves of Lake Coeur d’Alene could take you back to summer, but it’s January and the middle of winter. A thermometer brought by a Polar Plunge participant showed that the water was 42 degrees. To hundreds of people, they didn’t care that it was chilly.

“It’s cold, the same every year, cold water,” said the Tolerico Family. Some members of their family had been plunging into the water for a long time – 20 years.

It’s a crazy tradition that helps them kick-start the new year, and “it’s to get rid of his hangover,” they said.

“It’s exhilarating. I know it sounds stupid but… It’s silly. It is just silly, mindless and it’s a great way to bring in the new year. It’s fun, I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it is,” said Blaine Stone, another participant.

Everyone at Sanders Beach was celebrating the new year, but Theresa Whitlock-Wild was celebrating another trip around the sun – her birthday.

“I never used to like my birthday, and now, I just found this way that the whole world celebrates it with me,” Whitlock-Wild.

She stood next to Ken Martin, a man she met through the Polar Plunge.

“Last year was the first time I recognized him from Facebook and I was like ‘I know you,'” she said.

Thanks to the annual event, they became friends.

“Now we’re just going to meet here every year,” she said.

Even though there are 365 days until 2021, you can bet hundreds will show up again.

“It’s just a lot of fun. It’s a great way to start off the new year, a clean slate and it’s goofy and crazy,” Martin said.