A quirky welcome for the New Year is bubbling up out of the cool but open waters of Osoyoos Lake.
A group of adventurous souls is planning a mid-morning plunge into the lake — the US Geological Society has it at about 4C this time of year — organizing a last-minute Polar Bear Dip for Gyro Beach.
The cold-water shock is scheduled for about 11 a.m. New Year’s Day, with a sign-up beginning at 10:30.
“We put this together on a whim,” said organizer Glen Senft. “Someone mentioned it online and I thought let’s grab a hold of this and take it by the reins.”
He was quick to emphasize this is an “informal event” and participants would be dipping at their own risk.
The owner of Okanagan Construction Group said he is planning for this to be an annual event, providing for a membership and hoping to get certificates to tomorrow’s participants with T-shirts to follow at a later date.
“I’ve tried to put this together very quickly and I haven’t had a lot of time to do it,” said Glenn. “It’ll be much better next year, of course.”
Glenn is expecting first aid assistance on the beach. Otherwise, he’s still looking for a little help for tomorrow’s event.
“This year, we are a wild and crazy bunch living on the edge,” he said. “Bring a towel and a warm change of clothes, but if you have heart problems, consider this your pre-screen.
“Sign in and cheer us on but don’t go in the water. You’ll still get a T-shirt.”
Gyro Beach is located at the foot of Main Street in Osoyoos. There’s plenty of parking for participants — and lots of beach for those just wanting to watch.
Helpful Hints for Osoyoos Desert Dip Participants
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: It helps to have a companion on the beach to assist you after you exit the water.
WARM BOOTS: Bring a pair of warm/dry boots or shoes to wear before you go into the water and to put back on on once you get out of the lake.
OTHER CLOTHING: A toque or other head covering and a robe or large towel are encouraged for use after your dip.
GLASSES: If you wear glasses, we suggest you obtain a strap to hold them on, or leave them with your Significant Other.
EXPECT THE COLD SHOCK: As soon as you enter the lake, expect to go into something called “cold-shock” — an involuntary response that likely will cause you to inhale a giant gasping breath. The cold-shock response is followed by the “diving reflex.” Extremely cold water causes the blood vessels in the body to constrict to maintain heat on the outer part of the body. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to internal organs.
CHANGE: Change out of your wet clothes and dry yourself off right away after you come out of the water.
HAVE FUN: Expect to get a COLD WATER HIGH from the endorphins released during the dip. You’ll probably be high-fiving strangers and feeling pretty good about yourself.
This is a great social activity and promises to be a pretty good hangover cure.