Dozens of brave bathers headed to Sunnyside Beach on Jan. 1 to start 2012 with a splash.
Despite temperatures hovering just above freezing on that rainy afternoon, they took the plunge as part of the Toronto Polar Bear Dip 2012.
Since 2006, the Toronto Polar Bear Club has organized the annual event and has raised more than $100,000 for Habitat for Humanity Toronto.
This year’s event was the third such dip for Pardeep Singh Nagra, the leading fundraiser for the last two years.
“The first time was probably the easiest time because you’re just going in with adrenaline,” Singh Nagra said.
Why would he keep jumping in Lake Ontario during one of the coldest months of the year?
“The primary reason is the charitable aspect of it,” he said. “It’s also a fun thing to do.
“Every year new family and friends come out to join me so that makes it exciting.”
Singh Nagra said he has volunteered to build with Habitat for Humanity and raised $1,555 for the charity this year with his dip. As an individual he raised more than any fundraising team other than his own, the Sikhedelics, which brought in $4,633.
The youngest member of the group was Singh Nagra’s 4-year-old son Sahib, who was wearing a snowsuit as his father carried him while wading into the lake. Other dippers dressed in various costumes such as a cowboy or Elvis.
“Last year we were called the Toronto Maple Sikhs and we were all wearing Leafs jerseys and made a big replica of the Stanley Cup and stuff like that,” he said.
Six members of the Toronto Triumph lingerie football team were also in attendance to kick off the year by facing the frigid water.
“It was a great experience, we hope to have the whole team out next year,” said Triumph coach Mary Kennedy. “It was well organized and we hope to start earlier and generate more donations.”
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