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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

December 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM

A secret desire to jump in a lake

polarbearjumpone-m.jpg
Sketched Dec. 28, 10:32 a.m. [See uncropped version.]
polarbearjumpdos-m.jpgMore than a thousand people are expected to welcome the New Year at noon Saturday with a polar bear plunge at Matthews Beach Park in Seattle. Who is crazy enough to submerge themselves in frigid Lake Washington waters?
Meet Lilette Player and Janet Wilson. The event — now the biggest organized New Year’s plunge in the city — was their idea.
Player used to meet other plungers at Clarke Park Beach on Mercer Island, where she grew up, but she got tired of the drive and wanted to stay closer to her North Seattle home.
To find more people to jump with her, she went to the Meadowbrook Pool office and asked if a polar bear plunge at Matthews Beach Park could be listed as part of the pool’s activities. Wilson, the aquatic coordinator, loved the idea and ran with it. She secured a permit from the city and even brought lifeguards, said Player, who baked polar-bear-shaped cookies and designed “badges of courage” for everyone who got in up to their necks.
Eight years later, the crowd has grown from 300 to more than 1,000 — “Last year we did 1,100 badges and ran out,” said Wilson.
There are a lot of people in Seattle secretly wanting to jump in the lake on January 1st, said Player. “It’s fun to do something you didn’t think you could do … You feel fantastic after you’ve done it.”
I admire Player and Wilson’s courage, but I think it may take me another year or two to try out for my badge. For now, I feel good enough entering 2011 with this sketch.
Happy New Year!
Info and photos at theofficialunofficialpolarbearplunge.blogspot.com.
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad in 2011? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to gcampanario@seattletimes.com or via Facebook or Twitter.

Comments | More in Waterscapes | Topics: Lake Washington

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