Free Polar Plunges at California Beaches Ring in 2011

Californians love their ocean-but do they love it when the temperature in the water is a bone-chilling 55 degrees? While not quite as brisk as the temperature at Coney Island Polar Plunge where 33 degrees is common in the Atlantic, young and old come out for the annual Pacific polar dips, many held on January 1 to ceremoniously ring in the new year.

Events to enjoy this season include polar plunges in San Pedro, San Clemente, La Jolla, Huntington Beach, Venice Beach, Cayucos and Redding. There's also a swim in San Francisco by the oldest swim club in the nation formed in 1877, Dolphin Club, but that event is not for novices.

Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears Club is one of the most hospitable-a Polar Bear King & Queen are crowned and after the ocean plunge, cookies and cocoa are served free to those who come out, public invited. Held at Cabrillo Beach, the run begins at Noon. The Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears is a swim, fitness and community service club that began in 1945 and started the annual New Year's Run around 1953. The first events began with King Neptune rowed to shore to launch festivities. He usually wore a crown, sometimes a robe over his swimsuit, and carried a staph. The event took a turn for the better when a King and Queen were selected to represent the club throughout the year. In addition to being an integral part of the regular swim meet ups, they officiated in events such as the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears float appearing in the annual San Pedro Christmas Parade. The tradition of inviting to the public to join in on the first swim of the season has been around for over 50 years and the crowds have grown from 100 or less, to 500-1,000 today. If you want to make it a day of fun, be sure to stick around and check out Fanfare Musical Fountain show near the Port of Los Angeles.

Cayucos Polar Bear Dip is an annual event held each year on Jan.1. Sponsored by the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce, the event is held at the Cayucos Pier. Group begins to gather at 9:30 a.m. for a noon run into the Pacific Ocean.

Huntington Beach Surf City Splash is an annual event that features a Pancake Breakfast and run into the ocean. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. and the run commences at noon. Cost: $10-15.

For a full list of Polar Plunges on January 1, read on!

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