Polar Bears Spotted in Pittsburgh!

(Image above: Taken from Cuteoverload.com)

Some did it as a testament to their love of Pittsburgh. Some, to prove a point to their friends. Some did it to prove something to themselves. And some jumped into the freezing Monongahela waters as a good luck charm for the Steelers. Whatever their reason, a group of half-dressed, shivering, goose-bumped Burghers plunged into the river in what has become a Pittsburgh tradition – the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day!

Keep reading to find out just how cold it was – on the thermometer and from an honorary Polar Bear who took the plunge!

At about 9.30 a.m. on January 1st, a crowd descended upon the Mon Warf to take part in this frigid event. There was no way I was diving into that icy river, but a few of my friends did! This is what Carla Raspanti, a good friend and one half of the ‘tandem’ jumpers as dubbed by KDKA News, had to say when I questioned her about her chilly plunge:

Molly: Jump into the freezing cold river early in the morning after New Year’s Eve? Carla, why!?

Carla: Peer pressure and regret, pure and simple!  I didn’t do last year – I just went and watched, and I regretted it the moment everyone was in the water….that I wasn’t a part of that experience.  I told everyone this year I was doing it, so I had to follow through and cowboy up. I looked at the water before we jumped and I almost backed out! But John (ed. the other member of the ‘tandem’ jump) told me it was going to be okay,  so I just jumped!

Molly: Okay, just how cold was it? I know the temperature was 30 degrees, but what did it feel like?

Carla: It was so cold it was actually painful.  I lost all feeling in my hands and feet, to the point that I couldn’t stand up, which was really scary, and I started to panic.  Fortunately, two guys helped pull me out cause they could see I couldn’t get myself out.  It took about half an hour to get all the feeling back.

Molly: Wow! That’s crazy! And, kind of unnerving. Why do you think it’s such a popular thing to do? Sounds terrifying to me!

Carla: I think it’s so popular, because it’s sooo crazy!  You get instant street cred and bragging rights [to say] that you accomplished it when others didn’t.  I got a ton of positive feedback on Facebook from all of my friends…how awesome I am, how proud they are of me….it was great!  My cousin in Texas actually posted our video to her Facebook page for all her friends to see “her crazy cousin Carla in Pittsburgh,” so I know she was proud of me.

(Image above: Taken from Pittsburghlive.com)

Molly: So, you’ll do it again, then? Will we see you at the Mon on New Year’s Day, 2011?

Carla: Not sure if I will do it again.  I can cross it off my bucket list…I might just go out on a high note.  But, I have 360 days to decide, and if its 60 degrees next year,  I could be persuaded.

Does your town have a Polar Plunge? Would you take the New Year’s leap into icy waters? Let us know, and Happy New Year!


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  1. Avatar
    Hannah 01/04/2010 at 6:46 pm #

    I’m freezing just reading this ‘arctic-le!’ brrr.

  2. Avatar
    Natalie 01/04/2010 at 9:48 pm #

    My hometown hosts our own “Polar Plunge” every year to raise money for charities in the community. It’s pretty cool. 😉


  3. Avatar
    Talia 01/04/2010 at 10:42 pm #

    My town has a “Polar Bear Swim” as well, but I never do it 😛

  4. Avatar
    Emily 01/04/2010 at 11:25 pm #

    I live in Alaska, and we do the same thing! Though it was a bit colder then 30 when our town did it. I’m sure the ocean water was a bit warmer though. 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Mabel 01/05/2010 at 3:06 am #

    Polar bearing in Pittsburgh is nothing compared to doing it in the frigid Lake Michigan waters. Milwaukee for the win.

  6. Avatar
    Natalie B. 01/05/2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Oh, man… Carla’s right – this totally is a bucket list activity! It must be done!

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