SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. — After days of what could have been mistaken for April showers, Philadelphia got a jolt of February frost Saturday.
Unfortunately, that coincided with thousands of people running, diving, or simply standing and shrieking in bone-chilling shock in an Atlantic Ocean that was about 40 degrees Saturday morning. The water temperature could have been worse. The February average for that stretch of Atlantic surf is 35 degrees, according to National Centers for Environmental Information data.
Then again, those who signed up for the Polar Bear Plunge in Sea Isle City had to know comfort was not going to be part of the experience on a February weekend on the East Coast.
“It’s about having a good time," said Pat Johnson of Haddon Township, who has been putting himself through this shock to the system for 27 years. “All we do is work eight days a week. ... Life is not all about working. You gotta have a good time."
Johnson took Saturday’s plunge wearing ... a thong.
It’s not just about testing one’s discomfort endurance. The plunge is timed to capitalize on the long Presidents’ Day weekend to infuse some midwinter life into a Shore town usually desperate for some right about now.
And because this is just how life works, milder temperatures are on their way now that the frigid adventure is over.
Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 40s Sunday and into the mid-50s on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.