If you didn’t know the air or water temperature or the date, you might have thought Tuesday in Tacoma was a perfect day for a plunge in Puget Sound.
The sun burned brightly in a cloudless sky. The breeze blew gently. The Vashon ferry churned across the azure water toward Tahlequah, and yachts and sailboats escaped their boathouses at the Tacoma Yacht Club for a cruise on the Sound.
But the thermometer read 39, and the Sound’s waters were only a few degrees warmer.
Those cold facts were no deterrent for hundreds of people who chose to strip down to skimpy swimwear and plunge into the chill waters at the MetroParks’ Polar Bear Plunge.
“Not so bad,” declared Rick Remmert of Tacoma after jumping off a float at the Point Defiance boat launch. Remmert stood shirtless in the open after his brief plunge.
“I’ve been colder,” he declared, shrugging off the thought of moving to the warming tent.
Not all of his fellow plungers shared that sentiment.
Eight-year-old Reece Mills of Tacoma declared, “It’s cold.
“For a minute I thought I might get hypothermia,” he said as his mother, Leah, wrapped him in dry towels.
Avery Standifer, 7, said the water was “as cold as the North Pole” as he stood in a tent, warmed by a gas-fired portable heater. Liliana Wells, 8, could barely speak after she left the water. Her father, Ed, who had accompanied her on the plunge, said the two were in the water only a few minutes, but it seemed much longer.
Mother and daughter Carleen and Patrice McWilliams posed for a photo after they exited the water.
“It was a cool,” said Patrice, pun not intended.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier Anthony Welsh said a buddy had done the plunge, and he suggested his friend follow suit.
“It really wasn’t too bad,” he said as he shook off the salty water.
Two other plunge participants, Jim Hornby and David Lee, quickly donned camouflage jumpsuits after they exited the water.
The two decided to take the plunge while they were still young enough and able enough to do so.
“Why not do it?” Hornby asked. “It’s something now that we can always say we’ve done.”
John Gillie: 253-597-8663