There is a long tradition in Vancouver to hold a Polar bear swim on new years day. We found out about it yesterday and decided to check it out seeing as how it was held on the beach just a couple of blocks from our apartment.
I initially figured that it would be small, maybe 10-20 people jumping in the water. Then I noticed the cars jammed on the street, and lots of people walking along the seawall.
We started walking down the road towards the beach in the pouring rain. Traffic cops were directing cars, and crowds. This was much bigger than I expected. When we turned the corner and could see the beach we could finally grasp the size of this beach party. The beach was jam packed with people and tents it was at least 10 000 strong. Getting down into the crowd uncovered more surprises… people in costume, men in bikinis, a rugby team trying to climb a light pole, uniformed teams with matching t-shirts, and nude teams. This isn't simply a short dip in the ocean, it's a race to swim out about 100 meters and back. People pay to register for the event! It's supported by local radio stations, and corporate sponsors.