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Hundreds Take the Annual Polar Plunge

The traditional Polar Bear Plunge continued at Johnny Appleseed Park in the St. Joseph River
All across the nation large groups of people are continuing the tradition of taking a dip into frigid cold water to ring in the New Year. Fort Wayne is no exception. Today, hundreds of people got together for the polar bear plunge in the St. Joseph River. WFFT was there for all the chilly action.

With a high temperature of 23 degrees Wednesday, the water is also freezing. But what many people don't realize is that it's actually warmer inside the water.

"The official rubber duckie thermometer says 34 degrees water temperature," said Judy who has been dipping in the cold for more than a decade.

She and several others have been participating in the polar bear plunge for decades.

"This is my 42nd year," said Dottie Bax is a swim instructor.

"It’s fun camaraderie, you challenge yourself and you think by the time I could take a warm shower, 'do I really want to do this...' sure," said Bax.

The cold temperatures didn’t stop the crowd of hundreds from keeping up the New Years tradition.

"It’s only 19 degrees," said a man taking the challenge for the first time.

Bax says after decades of plunging into freezing cold water, there's really no way to prepare.

"Just get in and get out," said Bax.

"This is our first time and we did it as a family. We're going to make this a family tradition."

Some in bathing suits, others in costume. The tradition at St. Joseph River is seen as an initiation of change.

"It’s a good way to start off a new year."

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