The day before our VMQG December meeting, I listened to a conversation on the radio between two DJ's trying to psych each other up to do the annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1st. The "swim" (I use this term loosely as it is really a screaming dash into the ocean and a panicked, breathless waddle out) takes place right downtown on Vancouver's famous English Bay beach. The first and last time I participated was with B and my father, 17 years ago, and that was only because of peer pressure at work, where we were going to have a team with T-shirts, a towel and a participant button (I'm a sucker for the free stuff).
Spectators on top of the English Bay bath house, looking down onto the beach
While listening to the radio announcement about this year's event, I had a thought: what if I could get a bunch of VMQG members to join me in the swim? We could wrap up in our gorgeous modern quilts to get warm once we got out of the water and 15,000 people could potentially take notice of our guild/quilts/work! In my typical, somewhat irrational and impulsive way, I got excited about this idea and proposed it to the members at our December meeting.
There was nervous laughter.
There was immediate shaking of heads, exclamations of "no way!" and "you're crazy!"
I'm sure there were a couple of people wondering how the heck I managed to get the microphone in my hand yet again.
As I looked around at around 60 faces in the crowd, I saw a few smiles and enthusiastic nods. I reminded everyone that this is a FREE event and asked for a show of hands. I think 10 or 12 went up. Yay!
In the end, 6 guild members and one niece braved the chilly dip. Kudos to our co-presidents Holly and Felicity who both took one for the team and showed up with their big smiles! Here we are all cosy in our winter outerwear, just before stripping down to our bathing suits. It was a gorgeous day of 4C sunshine - couldn't have asked for better weather! Photo cred: Happysewlucky
The event packs the beach with spectators and there are many groups that dress up as well as individuals that participate year after year for their coveted button. There is an actual race (first three swimmers to the 100m buoy receive a trophy) which all of us were happy to let someone else win. In reality, the dash to the water is supposed to be at 2:30, but everything gets very confusing and there is lots of screaming and cheering and throwing of clothes, so I think the first toes hit the water at about 2:25.
We got all prepared in our suits and water shoes so that we only had to take off our jackets and dash!
Based on the advice of experienced Polar Bears, our little group stayed off to the side of the main event so that we wouldn't get trapped in the water ahead of a crowd rushing in behind us. Miss G and I had made a pact to go all the way and dunk our heads under. That hurt.
Here's G after her SECOND dip!! This girl's got spunk. Photo cred: Happysewlucky
Don't our quilts look amazing in that sunshine?! Photo cred: Happysewlucky
It didn't take long for the gasps and screams of shock (yes, the cold was much more shocking than I expected!) to give way to laughter once we were all cosy in our quilts. It was an amazing team-building activity that I hope will continue to next year with an even bigger group.
See you on January 1, 2016! Photo cred: Happysewlucky
What did YOU do to ring in 2015?
Happiest wishes for the new year to all of you!