Polar bears plunge as community spirit rises

February 4, 2014

The Cape Region has seen record low temperatures over the past two weeks, with icy winds sending the mercury to below-zero wind chills. For days, it’s been so cold, plumbers have been working around the clock to repair all the broken pipes flooding houses from Long Neck to Cape Shores.

On Saturday morning, as visitors trickled into Rehoboth for the annual Polar Bear Plunge, they found the Boardwalk still cov­ered in snow, edged by a narrow, icy path. Piles of snow lingered on street corners and a stubborn chill hung in the air.

And then the sun came out.

In a matter of hours, the cold retreated. The temperature rose, and snow all but vanished.

That’s how it happened that as plungers poured into Rehoboth Beach Sunday morning, the streets and Boardwalk were clear.

How could it be that in the midst of record cold, as thousands of people gathered on the beach, the temperature rose to nearly 60 degrees?

A cool ocean breeze would remind people it’s still February, but the air temperature at plunge time remained a balmy 50 degrees even though the water temperature hovered just above freezing.

To crowds waiting in costumes, bikinis and bathrobes on the beach, the break in the weather felt like a miracle, a clear sign that they were supposed to show up for a plunge into the sea.

Still, the real miracle is that more than 3,250 people were willing to get themselves onto the beach in February and into the icy water.

Perhaps even more of a miracle is that this event spurred our community to raise more than $725,000 for Special Olympics of Dela­ware.

In its 23-year history, the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge in Rehoboth has raised more than $7 million to support Special Olympics – prov­ing that people with special needs matter to Delaware and that our community is ready to support everyone’s efforts to be all they can be.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.