After staying up late to ring in the new year, many residents might choose to spend the first day of 2017 lounging about, relaxing, and enjoying the fact that 2016, is now over.
Not Linda Harrop.
At noon, on Jan. 1, she and a few friends and family members headed down to the docks at the Burton campground for their annual polar bear dip.
Harrop had been talking about doing the dip for quite some time. On the last day of 2011, she decided to put her money where her mouth was and take the plunge.
“One New Year’s Eve party I found another person, Alan Ross, who said, ‘Yes, let’s do it tomorrow, high noon,’” she said. “Once we got a third person, it was decided that the three of us would do the polar bear dip.”
Harrop has done the dip almost every year since, with the exception of missing the dip last year because of an illness.
Conditions for the dip this year were a little colder than normal. On top of being chilly, with temperatures ranging between -2 and 0, there was an icy wind blowing across the lake.
This year’s participants were Linda Harrop, her son Christopher and daughter Deborah, as well as friends Barb Clay and Inga Ivany.
For some, this was their first time braving the icy waters on New Year’s Day.
Others, like Christopher, have done it before, though under slightly different circumstances.
While part of the One Field Ambulance Unit, based out of Edmonton, he and the unit were doing an exercise in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with the Rangers, a group of Inuit who are trained in defense.
“We were in full uniform and running shoes and had to walk until the ice broke,” he said. “We had to all go in and stay in until you could gain your senses and call out your name, rank, and service number, and then you were allowed to crawl out on your belly.”
He recalled those who had completed the exercise requiring help getting changed, because by the time they got out of the water and back across the ice, their fingers were so frozen they wouldn’t work.
Barring any mishaps or illnesses, Harrop plans on continuing the traditional dip for many years to come.
“At the start it was just to get it off my bucket list, but then after I did it once I decided to continue doing it,” she said. “It’s a good way to start the year off fresh.”