Plunge into 2019 at the coolest event of the year


Jump into the water with other jubilant merrymakers Jan. 1 at the seventh annual Polar Bear Plunge at Point Defiance Marina boat launch. The event is presented by BECU and supported by Bloodworks Northwest.

Trade your winter coat for a swimsuit and go knee deep, waist high or all the way in. The Cub Plunge is for those who want to enter the water from the launch ramp. It begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by the Polar Bear Plunge at noon for people who want to jump off the docks feet first. Costumes are welcome but not required, though participants need to have protective footwear.

The event is free and takes place rain or shine at the Point Defiance boat launch, located at 5912 N. Waterfront Dr. in Point Defiance Park. For the safety of participants, life jackets will available and lifeguards will be stationed on the docks.

Daring folks who jump in can warm up afterward in heating tents, sip free hot drinks, and purchase treats from the snack bar. Changing tents will be available.

In addition to a year’s worth of bragging rights, participants receive a Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium coupon good for $3 off general admission. Commemorative T-shirts will be available for $5 while supplies last.

Parking is limited nearby, but a shuttle bus will transport participants from the Owen Beach parking lot to and from the Plunge between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Plunge continues to be wildly popular with more than 1,000 people in attendance and 350 taking the plunge off the boat ramp or docks in recent years. Those brave enough to jump into Puget Sound ranged from small children to the more mature, from costumed to fully clothed.

Bloodworks Northwest representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the life-saving benefits of blood donations and encourage participants to turn out for upcoming blood drives and typing events. From 1-7 p.m. Jan. 7, Bloodworks will hold a community blood drive in celebration of National Blood Donor Month at STAR Center. To register, go to the Bloodworks website at

Point Defiance Marina has anchored the northeast side of Point Defiance Park since 1944, when it replaced the original boathouse pavilion of the early 1900s. While down at the waterfront stop by to browse the gift shop, rent a boat or sign up for a boating or fishing class.

Healthy Plunge guidelines:

  • Anyone with a history of heart problems should talk to their healthcare provider before participating in the Polar Bear Plunge.
  • Stay away from alcohol. Alcohol does not warm you up; it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Don’t stay in the water longer than 15 minutes. Body heat is lost 25 times faster in the water than in air. Puget Sound water temperature is around 45 degrees this time of year.
  • To keep warm, wait until immediately before entering the water to remove any extra clothing worn over your swimsuit or plunge outfit.
  • Don’t forget to bring dry clothes, a towel and protective footwear.
  • Service animals only are allowed in the water with participants. All other animals must stay on shore.

Volunteers are always needed to serve refreshments or set up and take down after the event. For more information, visit or call (253) 591-5325.

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