Sure, it’s probably going to be dark and rainy and completely soaking on Friday, but if there was ever a year to try a polar bear plunge, this might be it.

“Why not? We’ve been through so much already,” said Kitsap County resident Athena Cole, who is contemplating her first-ever plunge, a New Year’s Day dip into chilly waters.

Cole said she always looked with admiration at people who participate in the feat but didn’t think she could do it.

“There’s been so many things this year that used to be scary that I kind of think I can do it now,” she said.

Though many of the places that have in the past organized the plunges that saw people immerse themselves in icy water on Jan. 1 are not officially hosting this year, there are still plenty of places to get cold and wet.

Seattle Parks and Recreation, which has seen several thousand participants at Matthews Beach in previous years, said its event this year will be virtual but will be “amazing and fun.”


Although it’s too late to register for the city’s DIY plunge kit, the department invites people to get their “plunge on” by filling their bathtubs with cold water, using their garden hoses or even taking an icy shower as a safe alternative to larger bodies of water.

In West Seattle, the traditional event is being held but with significant changes, mainly that participants are being asked to spread themselves out at multiple locations along the beach and enter the water in small numbers.

The Lake Sammamish Polar Plunge group will not be taking its dunk together this year but is inviting people to participate virtually with pools, buckets, hoses and bathtubs and email a picture to for a chance to win a neck gaiter.

Additionally, Lake Sammamish State Park will be open and free all day.

In Kirkland, organizers have dispatched with the starting time at Marina Park, saying that this year it will be more like an open-house event, with what they hope will be people spacing themselves through the entire day and posting pictures on social media with the #kirklandplunge hashtag.

High tide will be at 6:46 a.m. and at 4:33 p.m.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has a few words of caution, though, if you decide to take a plunge:

  • Don’t jump into cold water if you have heart problems.
  • Avoid alcohol before and during your plunge because it can accelerate hypothermia.
  • Change out of your soaked clothing as soon as possible.
  • Make sure to socially distance and wear a face mask.
  • Keep your plunge group to people in your family or quarantine bubble.

Here’s the city’s flyer for the virtual Polar Bear Plunge: