Spider-Man and two “Sasquatch secret service” agents were among more than 100 swimmers who signed waivers and took a running start at Harrison Lake on Wednesday (Jan. 1) to celebrate the new year.
After a few words from Harrison Hot Springs mayor Leo Facio, a rainbow appeared over the water, and the Harrison Polar Bear Swim participants ran down the beach and into the lake at noon.
Harrison Hot Springs residents Zack Martyn and Danny Hong were then announced the winners of the costume contest, and awarded gift certificates for Muddy Waters Cafe and for cleaning services.
Martyn, a.ka. “Tor of Forest Three,” told the Observer they dressed up as “Sasquatch secret service” agents for the swim.
“We protect the Sasquatch in the forest, so any time the Sasquatch is viewed by a human of this world, we will protect and hide the Sasquatch from any viewers,” he said, keeping in character.
|Harrison Hot Springs residents Zack Martyn (left) and Danny Hong won the best costume award at the Harrison Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1, 2020 for their “Sasquatch secret service” ensembles. (Karissa Gall/The Observer)|
Martyn also said the water wasn’t as cold as he anticipated.
“Last year was really cold,” added Hong, a.k.a “Gar of Forest Three.”
According to Environment Canada, the high in Harrison Hot Springs on Jan. 1 was 12 degrees Celsius. But in 2019, when around 70 people participated in the swim, the temperature was only in the single digits.
|Vancouver resident Pedram Amani (centre) was on vacation in Harrison Hot Springs on Jan. 1, 2020 and heard about the Polar Bear Swim a few hours before it started. He decided to participate — his first time doing a polar bear swim — and said it was a “fun” experience. (Karissa Gall/The Observer)|
Double digit temperatures or not, the lake is fed by glacial waters, and most swimmers were running for their towels, warm clothes, a hug from the man dressed in a furry Sasquatch costume, or hot chocolate and food donated by A&W and the Black Forest Restaurant after they completed the plunge.
Non-perishable food was also being collected from participants and spectators for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services, as well as cash donations.
After counting all of the donations, executive director Grace Admiraal told the Observer they raised 64 kilograms of non-perishables and $555.90 for the local food bank.
|The Harrison Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1, 2020 was hosted by the Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department. (Karissa Gall/The Observer)|
Down river, about 15 people ages 4 and up participated in the 8th Harrison Mills Penguin Plunge.
Organizer David Hay said the turnout set a new record for the annual event.
“We also had the moral support on many family, friends and locals on the beach,” Hay said in an email.
|Fifteen people participated in the 8th Harrison Mills Polar Plunge on Jan. 1, 2020. (Contributed photo)|