Edmonds Uplift Society closes its books, but Polar Bear Plunge will live on

Uplift Society members in their signature white terrycloth robes march down Main Street for the 2013 Polar Bear Plunge. (My Edmonds News file photo)

If you are looking ahead to the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Brackett’s Landing on New Year’s Day, note that the Edmonds Uplift Society has closed its membership books and is retiring the signature white bathrobes that have been part of the plunge tradition

That’s according to Uplift Society founder Brian Taylor, who says that the practice of collecting the current robes and embroidering them with the year of the event, has been discontinued. However, existing Uplift Society members are free to continue updating their own robes, he said.

Begun in 2008 by Taylor, the Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge has become an annual celebration of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. Taylor had participated in similar events over the years, and one evening over a few drinks with friends it was suggested that the time was ripe to institute a polar bear plunge in Edmonds.

Inspired by a 1932 photograph from the Edmonds Historical Museum archives showing the Edmonds Uplift Society, a prohibition-era drinking club, Taylor and others decided to revive the Uplift Society as the event sponsor. In recognition, the museum donated a print of the original Uplift Society members hoisting a few cold Rainiers, which continues to occupy a place of honor in Daphne’s Bar. Grateful for the gesture, the Uplift Society decided to donate funds generated by the event to benefit the museum, a tradition which continues to this day.

Each New Year’s Day since, Uplift Society members have been gathering at Daphne’s, donning the traditional club regalia of white terry cloth robes with embroidered dates showing each year they’ve taken the plunge, and marching down Main Street to Brackett’s Landing, where they are joined by a waiting crowd for the dive into Puget Sound.

This year, both Edmonds Uplift Society members and non-members who are wearing a robe over their swimwear are welcome to Daphnes bar at noon Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 to participate in the traditional Rainier Beer toast and singing of God Bless America, Taylor said.

“The 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge will commence at 1 p.m. sharp at Brackett’s Landing Beach for those not pre-functioning at Daphnes,” he added.

All those who participate in the Polar Bear Plunge are encouraged to make a donation to the Edmonds Historical Museum. Daphnes will also be making a donation to the museum, he said.

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