Dan’s July 4 Polar Bear Plunge – Sweaters in the Hamptons Summer

Polar bear plunge cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

Fun is good. Right around New Year’s we have the Polar Bear Plunge. It’s fun. The weather is below freezing and everybody gets dressed in bathing suits, puts on a robe, drives down to the beach and, when the horn sounds, runs into the water and back out.

The event itself lasts about five minutes. Beforehand for a half-hour, people assemble. They want to see who else is there. They want to see what others are wearing. Occasionally there’ll be a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny. No matter. When the gun sounds, off they go.

The Polar Bear Plunge happens in Sag Harbor, Southampton, East Hampton and I don’t know where else. About 200 people attend and run into the water. They hoot and holler and have their pictures taken. At the end, shivering, teeth chattering and all bundled up, they climb back into cars and drive home.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like a Polar Bear Plunge on the Fourth of July? It would seem a natural. There are 10 times the number of people here to enjoy it then. It would be the yang to the Polar Bear Plunge’s yin. Thus we here at Dan’s Hamptons Media—the new corporate name of Dan’s Papers—are pleased to announce the Dan’s Fourth of July Polar Bear Plunge.

The horn at Cooper’s Beach in Southampton will sound at noon as the start of the event for the thundering herd of people waiting anxiously at the beach there.

An hour before noon, in their homes, the 4,000 people who have signed up for this event will carefully dress for the occasion. They will put on long underwear, heavy sweaters, high boots, thick hooded coats, mittens, goggles, snow hats, scarves and galoshes, then lumber out to their cars. It is 90° on the Fourth of July. The beach will be full of sunbathers.

At 10 minutes to noon, the music of the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl” will play at top volume from loudspeakers. At five minutes to noon the entrants will appear directly in front of the Cooper’s Beach pavilion at the back of the beach. All sweating in the heat, they will mill around and try to guess who’s who among the hulking mass of entrants, and then, with the sound of the gun, they will run, screaming—the kind of screaming that might be heard in a charge on Game of Thrones– in a great waddle toward the ocean with their snow shovels (I forgot to mention everybody has a snow shovel), carefully picking their way down across the beach blankets and through the summer sunbathers without stepping on anybody, to splash into the surf and then thrash and smash into the waves to the deep water beyond. Out there they will dunk everybody who is near them.

I know some people, weighted down in the surf by their heavy gear, may face the threat of sinking like a stone. But, with the lifeguards right there to try to prevent that, the victims should be few. Or seen still another way, this would be the ritual ruining of all your heavy winter clothes by salt, brine and seaweed to benefit the clothing stores in the area when winter arrives the following year.

Everyone would be required to remove all their clothes, other than their undershorts, right there in the sea and cast them off. The winter clothes thus thrown will be seen for weeks, bobbing out to sea in a great floating island of puffy knitwear and rubber, a gallant reminder to everybody of what a wonderful time they had, until they—the clothes, that is—are finally consumed by sharks.

A surprise appearance at this event will be an actual 800-pound polar bear. He will lead the entrants down the beach, roaring through the crowd following a trail of fish thrown out by some local Bonackers as a kind of sidewalk leading him into the sea. He, the polar bear, will wear the traditional Dan’s hat that is the trademark of a Dan’s Hampton Media event.

The Fourth of July Dan’s Polar Bear Plunge will be held just after the Dan’s Rosé Soirée, a Memorial Day Weekend celebration of rosé wine at the Southampton Arts Center on May 28, and right before the Dan’s Clambake MTK on July 8 and the new Dan’s MonTaco fiesta at Gurney’s Montauk on July 7.

Be sure to make plans to attend all the Dan’s Hamptons Media Events this summer, which include, besides the above, Dan’s GrillHampton at Fairview Farm on Mecox Bay in Bridgehampton on July 21, Dan’s Taste of Two Forks at Fairview Farm on July 22, Dan’s Kite Fly at Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack on August 5, the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize Awards Gala at Guild Hall on August 31. Don’t miss all these wonderful events.

By the way, I’ve already made contact with the Riverhead Aquarium for the polar bear.

As we go to press, we’ve been told this event will not happen unless we remove the endangered polar bear from the program, as this is very unkind to polar bears. Well, Pete the Polar Bear is very much looking forward to this, so, to save him further embarrassment, we are going to cancel holding this event before it, so to speak, gets off the ground. What the hell.

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