Huntington Beach Brrrrr: A Warmer Polar Plunge

Revelers run into the ocean on New Year's Day.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Monday, Dec 30, 2013  |  Updated 5:41 PM PDT
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Huntington Beach Brrrrr: A Warmer Polar Plunge

Surf City Splash

Ready to strip down to your trunks and head for the Pacific? It's a Jan. 1 tradition in Huntington Beach.

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The whole teeth-chattering, arm-rubbing, feet-stamping, hand-breathing-upon routine that one must do when one is standing next to the ocean on New Year's Day?

It's kind of a scene. And it's a big part of the classic polar bear plunges and winter swims, many of which go down, around the world, on New Year's Day.

Call it an epic, delightfully daffy way to freeze out the old and warm up to what shall come.

But 'round Southern California, our polar plunge is a bit different. First off, it has a non-"polar" moniker -- Surf City Splash -- and with good reason: New Year's Day is sometimes downright toasty in Huntington Beach.

Or approaching toasty. It'll be in the low 70s, for the high, at Huntington Beach Pier on Wednesday, Jan. 1, meaning the happy, swimsuit-wearing hordes who line up to take a brisk dip won't be saying "brrrr" all that much. Not like their New Year's Day ocean-frolicksome counterparts in Canada and Sweden.

You can register on the day-of for twenty five bucks. That nets you breakfast and a tee. Keep that tee dry, to don after your swim. You'll want it, warmer temps or not.

Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is one recipient of the day's proceeds. Yep, a few surfers might be taking a cold paddle on the day, and, sure, they're used to it, but Surf City Splash is all about trading the cozier wetsuit for the standard-issue trunks.

Everyone, in short, is on even ground. Or, um, ocean, rather.

Time is 10 a.m., and there are several prizes for costumes and best group. Yep, a lot of longtimers are out in force on Huntington Beach, but newcomers with a thrill for adventure -- or at least goosepimple-inducing saltwater -- are absolutely welcome.

Is 2014 the year you stir things up from the get-go? And why not tell the relatives in chillier climes that you swam on New Year's morning? A little good-natured bragging to start the year isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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