Above, local resident Leanne Laracey lets out a scream after emerging from the icy waters of Palmerâ€™s Pond during the 2013 polar dip.
DORCHESTER, N.B. â€“ Dorchesterâ€™s annual tradition will continue once again this year as dozens of brave souls get set to jump into the frigid waters of Palmerâ€™s Pond for the villageâ€™s New Yearâ€™s Day polar bear dip.
Plans are well under way for this yearâ€™s event, which is celebrating 20 years, and organizers are hoping lots of dippers will turn out in support of the annual fundraiser, which is sponsored by the Dorchester Lions Club.
The event has been a ritual in the small village since 1994, when three local residents jumped into the pond on a dare. It has continued ever since, raising funds for a variety of local organizations in that time, including the Bob Edgettâ€™s Boys and Girlsâ€™ Club, the Dorchester volunteer fire department, and the local minor baseball association.
Dorchesterâ€™s polar bear dip is now believed to be the longest-running one in New Brunswick, possibly even in the Atlantic Provinces.
Although everyone is welcome to take part in the polar bear dip, because it is a fundraiser, participants are asked to collect pledges or pay a $25 registration fee for the event. Donations will also be collected from observers during the event.
As well as village residents, the dippers over the years have come from outside areas, such as Moncton, Riverview, Dieppe and nearby Nova Scotia, to take part in the New Yearâ€™s Day custom.
Members of the local fire department look after cutting the hole in the ice every year and are also on hand as a safety precaution pulling people out of the water when necessary and keeping the spectators off the ice. The site of the dip, at the edge of Palmerâ€™s Pond, is only about five feet deep.
The festivities start precisely at 1 p.m. and, if youâ€™re late, youâ€™ll miss the entire event â€“ participants donâ€™t stay in long.
Many of the dippers and those who come out to watch, continue their New Yearâ€™s Day celebration at the New Yearâ€™s levee, which is held at the Keillor House following the dip.
To obtain a registration form and sponsor sheet, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Wendy at 379-6215 or Paul at 379-2730.
Helpful Hints for dippers
â€“Arrive at the dipping site by 12:30 p.m. to register.
â€“Wear a pair of flip flops or old sneakers. The bottom is muddy.
â€“Bring a robe or large towel. You want to stay as warm as you can while waiting your turn.
â€“If you have received a registration form, have it filled out and present it, with your fee, to the registrar.
â€“Showing up in costume or fancy dress is encouraged.