964 'polar bears' ring in the new year at Long Lake

Nearly 1,000 fun-loving people celebrated the first day of 2015 by either watching or jumping into frigid Long Lake in Lacey.

The 30th edition of the Polar Bear Plunge, which has been staged at Long Lake since 2008, was one of the coldest on record. Although clear and sunny on Thursday, the water temperature was 42 degrees and frost covered the grass, shore and dock.

Plungers began arriving about noon for the 1 p.m. start time. Some huddled around small barrel fires or drank hot cocoa before jumping in.

Matt Edwards, 44, of Olympia showed up for his first plunge by dressing as a caveman, including a club slung over his shoulder.

“You go big or you don’t go at all,” he said.

Asked what his immediate plans were following the plunge, Edwards replied: “Starbucks.”

Sandra Bush, 72, of Lacey, participated in her second local plunge, keeping up a tradition she started years ago when she lived in northern California.

It’s a great way to start the new year, she said, and the weather was gorgeous.

“Is this a party or what?” said Bush, who lives at the Panorama retirement community.

Also participating in his second plunge was Lacey City Councilman Michael Steadman, who showed up wearing a robe and Crocs.

“Get in, get out and get warm,” he said, sharing advice he learned from Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint during last year’s plunge.

Steadman also apologized for his physical appearance before disrobing.

“You can’t unsee this,” he said.

Then Steadman and KRXY radio DJ Ron Harris staged some good-natured fun on the Long Lake dock during a third wave of people who jumped into the water.

Steadman pushed Harris into the water, and as Harris climbed the dock ladder out of the water, he pulled the councilman in.

Steadman executed a head-first dive.

“It’s colder than last year,” he said after emerging from the lake.

In keeping with tradition, event organizers Lacey Parks and Recreation paid tribute to a musician who died in 2014 by playing his music.

This time it was Paul Revere Dick of Paul Revere and the Raiders. He died in October.

Lacey Parks also accepted donations for its summer lunch program, and KRXY asked for canned food to donate to the Thurston County Food Bank.