Brrr-ing in the new year — plunge into Puget Sound

Last year’s Polar Bear Plunge drew more than 300 participants. “It’s been growing every year,” said event organizer Louise Favier. “We’re looking for more folks to join us this New Year’s.” (Photo by Larry Vogel)

By Larry Vogel/For Lynnwood Today

Scrap your other plans for New Year’s Day!

Instead grab your bathing suits, towels and a warm blanket and head down to Brackett’s Landing for the seventh annual Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by the Edmonds Uplift Society.

“We invite everyone to join us at 1 p.m. at Brackett’s Landing,” said Louise Favier, who will be flying in on New Year’s Eve from New York City to lead the event. “It’s the signature Uplift event, and we look forward to it all year.”

Louise and husband Brian Taylor, owners of Daphne’s bar on Main Street, have spearheaded the Plunge since its inception in 2008.

Taylor grew up in Edmonds, but moved to New York City in 1990. While there he participated in several New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunges at Coney Island. He found the experience addicting. Returning to Edmonds several years later, he opened Daphne’s, Edmonds own Parisian-style bar one door east of the historic Edmonds Theater, but never gave up the idea of starting a similar event here.

old photo
The members of the original Edmonds Uplift Society enjoying a few (illegal) brews in 1932. This photo now hangs next to the bar in Daphne’s, and was the inspiration for the present Uplift Society. Interested in joining? Talk to the bartender in Daphne’s. (Photo courtesy of Edmonds Historical Museum)

One evening over a few drinks, he and some friends decided the time was right for a Polar Bear Plunge in Edmonds. Looking around for a name for the group, they came upon a 1932 photo from the Edmonds Historical Museum showing members of the Edmonds Uplift Society enjoying a prodigious number of Rainier beers in what appears to be the basement of historic Beeson Building. Prohibition was still the law of the land at the time, so these beers were likely bottled before the18th Amendment and the subsequent Volstead Act became law in 1919 (lucky for them it would be only another year before the 21st Amendment would repeal Prohibition and once again make it legal to hoist a few brews).

The name stuck, and the Edmonds Uplift Society was reborn. The historic photo now occupies an honored spot next to the bar in Daphne’s.

“We’re very grateful to the Edmonds Historical Museum for letting us display their photo,” said Favier, “and each year we take up donations to help the museum. This year we’re accepting donations up to the event itself.”

Uplift Society members in their signature white terrycloth robes march down Main Street for the 2013 Polar Bear Plunge. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Uplift Society members have special robes for the event, to which new embroidery is added each year they participate.

But Favier stresses that the event is open to all. “Everyone is welcome to join us at Brackett’s Landing,” she said. “Bring the family, come in costume if you want, and join in the fun. We’ll be plunging at 1 p.m. sharp, so be there a little early if you can.”

Favier and son Jack will be in town until the weekend. They plan to take the red eye back to New York on Saturday night. Brian Taylor couldn’t get away from New York, and will miss the Edmonds event this year.

“But he’s not staying out of the water,” Favier said. “On New Year’s Day he’ll be at the front of the crowd at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge.”

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