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PHOTOS: Agassiz-Harrison starts New Year fresh with an ice-cold swim

Harrison firefighters, traditional Penguin Plunge swimmers brrrr-ave the cold
Participants from the Penguin Plunge at Kilby Park in Harrison Mills pose for a picture during their 11th annual event. (Photo/Penguin Plunge)

There’s nothing quite like a cold dip in glacier-fed waters to really start the year off right.

Whether you call it a polar bear swim or a penguin plunge, it’s a long-standing tradition for a few brave people in Agassiz-Harrison to wade into the frigid waters of Harrison Lake or any of the nearby rivers.

Two years ago, The Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department first used the annual polar bear swimmer pilgrimage as a way to raise funds and gather food donations for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services (AHCS). Swimmers would dress up in costumes, including superheroes like Spider-Man and the enigmatic “Sasquatch Secret Service.” During the inaugural event on New Year’s Day 2020, more than 100 swimmers registered for the event. The swim raised more than $500 for AHCS and gathered 64 kilograms of non-perishable food.

RELATED: VIDEO: Harrison Polar Bear Swim 2020 attracts more than 100 registered swimmers

In the past two years, locals and visitors conducted their own New Year’s swim sessions. This year, the Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department (in full uniform, no less), attendees of the 11th annual Penguin Plunge in Harrison Mills and a few brave locals at Harrison Lake took the frigid plunge on Jan. 1.


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Locals brave the frigid temperatures of Harrison Lake every New Year’s Day to kick off the new year with a chilly dip in the water. (Photo/Susan Galvao)