Throngs of people dashed over the icy shore of Lake Michigan to dive into its frigid waters on January 1, brushing aside historically low temperatures.
A number of East Coast cities canceled their Polar Bear Plunges, including Kenosha and Chicago closer to home, due to an Arctic weather blast. The freezing temperatures, hovering at 1° by noon in Milwaukee with a windchill of -14°, did not stop area residents from participating in the annual Bradford Beach event.
Hundreds of people stood along the ice encrusted coastline to cheer along those making the plunge, who afterwards sought heat from the numerous fire pits along the frozen sand.
A day earlier, organizers and city officials had tried to discourage people from attending, fearing the risk of hypothermia, but stopped short of cancelling the New Year’s Day tradition. Paramedics and members of the Milwaukee Fire Department’s Dive Rescue unit took positions about a dozen yards from shore, clad in Mustang Ice Commander Rescue Suits, to offer aid.
Milwaukee has been gripped by a subzero cold spell, with the National Weather Service forecasting New Year’s Day as the fourth coldest on record. Normal temperatures usually range from the low teens to upper 20s.
These images captured the unique Milwaukee winter spirit, as community residents braved frigid conditions to join the first public event of the New Year.