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Who needs Hawaii in January?
Bold beach buffs from the Coney Island Polar Bear Club embrrr-aced 2013 by frolicking in the frigid waves off the Boardwalk with smiles as wide as the sun, while thumbing their noses at the frosty temps.
Swimmers put their nerves on ice for the famed group’s 110th annual daredevil dip in the Atlantic, stripping down to their smalls and proudly strutting their stuff on the shoreline before making a big splash on New Year’s Day.
The thrills were non-stop.
Prospect Lefferts Gardens resident Michael Bernstein proposed to stunned girlfriend Courtney Stein as the pair emerged from the surf (she accepted!), while Brighton Beach teacher Jared Rosenblum, 29, rode the chutzpah wave to the fullest, parading his buff bod in a teensy-weensy gray bikini.
He picked up the skimpy outfit at the Beach Shop on the Boardwalk after he lost a bet to a pal— and realized he wouldn’t be able to squeeze into any of his female friends’ swimwear.
“This one stood out because it matched my outgoing personality, but I had to get a 2XL and wear the bottom backwards to make it fit!” said Rosenblum, adding proudly that he was repeatedly asked to pose for a photograph.
Rosenblum, who was left homeless by Hurricane Sandy, said he gladly took his very first glacial drenching because this year’s proceeds will benefit storm victims, as well as a charity for children with life-threatening illnesses.
“It was for a good cause,” he said, vowing to return next year.
Polar Bear veteran Megan Walsh said the icy swim is all about community.
“Everyone is happy and excited — it brings together groups of people who normally wouldn’t interact,” said the 26-year-old executive assistant from Bay Ridge, who has taken part since she was 7.
The event’s mounting popularity was evidenced at Ruby’s Bar and Grill — a semi-official launching pad and go-to spot for hot chocolate and chili — which had an elaborate system in place to accommodate the swarm of swimmers, according to Walsh.
“Years ago, everyone who went could fit in there, but you had to wait on line this year, you got a wrist band, and every 15 minutes a new wave would jump in,” she said.
And as the New Year’s Day party continues to grow, the freezing fiesta remains a Brooklyn tradition worth keeping, according to its biggest dipper.
“It’s a way of leaving the old behind and welcoming the new with a shock to the system!” said Dennis Thomas, president of the group, which claims to be the nation’s original winter bathing email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-2529. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BritShavana
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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