The Hamptons Police Department Animal Control Squad’s quick response team was called to Sag Harbor on Saturday after a series of miscommunications over that day’s Polar Bear Plunge eventually led to a live polar bear rampaging down Main Street.
According to HPD spokesman Rex Gallant, a new member of the event’s organizing committee misunderstood the nature of what they had planned and ordered a live polar bear to be brought in via helicopter and dropped into the water near Long Wharf, just as hundreds were entering the frigid water from Windmill Beach.
“As I’m sure you’d expect, chaos immediately ensued,” Gallant said. “This was the worst mistake we’ve ever encountered during one of these celebration weekends,” he continued. “A few years back, the committee used the wrong symbol when ordering the annual ice sculpture and ended up with an 8-inch by 6-inch ice whale instead of the intended 8-foot by 6-foot whale, but at least no one was in any actual danger.”
Within seconds of the polar bear’s plunge, people began screaming and swimming or running back to shore. “The beast was thrashing around and growling mightily,” one plunger recalled, noting that the bear also headed to shore, and then loped onto Main Street, where people continued to scatter in terror.
“Thanks to their quick and effective response, the Animal Control Squad had the beast tranquilized and removed from town, back to safety, within about 20 minutes,” Gallant said. “Needless to say, the Polar Bear Plunge committee has already made some important personnel changes, so we don’t expect any sort of problem next year.”