Hundreds take the plunge at Golden Gardens for the annual Ballard polar bear tradition

When the Golden Gardens polar bear plunge began in 2009, only a few dozen people jumped into the frigid waters of Puget Sound. Year after year the event has grown, and this year — by our unofficial eye — the plunge appeared to smash attendance records with around 300 people. Watch:

Swimmers young and old alike — some wearing costumes — jumped into the Sound and quickly emerged, high-fiving their friends. As is tradition, Christmas trees burned brightly in the fire pits, warming up the crowd.
The Ballard polar bear plunge was the brainchild of a group of friends from Ballard’s Lock and Keel. “I did it up in Vancouver where there’s like 8,000 people who do it, and then I came down here,” organizer Rick Sandvig told us two years ago. “So I said, why don’t we do it here?”
While Alki and Magnuson beaches draw bigger Seattle crowds for their own version of the plunge, Ballard is beginning to compete for attention, attracting its first TV camera for today’s event.

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