Every New Year’s Day in South Queensferry near Edinburgh under the gaze of the massive Forth Bridges an event takes place which literally takes the breath away. The ‘Looney Dook’ is a well-established lemming-like rush into the ice-cold waters of the Firth of Forth by stupidly brave locals to signal the New Year. The event has something of a history these days and is not it’s own in the genre. Today’s Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, tells of at least two more similar events here in Atlantic Canada.
I visited nearby Mispec Beach a few days ago and it is a charming spot. Ideal for summer bathers in spite of the reported cold waters of The Bay of Fundy which lap the sands there. Nearby, all around lay petrified waterfalls of solid ice, beautiful though forbidding at this time of year. Not so for some brave souls however.
Yesterday on the first day of the New Year the mercury had dropped to -13c at Mispec Beach. The strong, swirling winds ensured that when taking wind chill into account, the temperature was effectively -28c down there on the sands. It was interesting to hear the comments of the ‘dookers’ after their experience.
Polar Dipper, Will MacGillivray complained after the event that attracted 100 participants that, “I can’t move my fingers, they’re completely numb,” Will said. “And my legs are frozen and my pants are frozen.” Despite this William still claimed to have “had fun”.
William’s brother, Nick, 16 was less enthusiastic
“It’s not fun, it’s not fun at all,” he mentioned afterwards whilst shivering violently and uncontrollably. “I slipped on the way back. I’m bleeding, I can’t feel it though,” Nick said. “Once I started running into the water, I thought I don’t want to run into this water.”
This didn’t deter the youngster from dashing into the waves however.
Attendance had deteriorated from last year when around 200 people came out to swim like the polar bears. The weatehr was said to have made a difference from the previous year which registered a mere -3C with sun and blue skies.
Oakville Ontario was the venue of a similar New Year’s stunt where around 400 dippers sunk themselves into the icy waters of Lake Ontario at the Coronation Park.
Here, participants bravely try to keep warm before the big moment in an event that has raised more than $380,000 towards providing clean water to developing countries since it’s inception back in 1985.