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.

Pat Johnson of Haddon Township wades into the frigid Atlantic Ocean for his 27th Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Pat Johnson of Haddon Township wades into the frigid Atlantic Ocean for his 27th Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge.

“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.

While the expressions said C-O-O-O-L-D, the water, about 40 degrees Saturday, was warmer this atypically moderate winter than the 35 degrees usual for that stretch of Atlantic surf in February.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
While the expressions said C-O-O-O-L-D, the water, about 40 degrees Saturday, was warmer this atypically moderate winter than the 35 degrees usual for that stretch of Atlantic surf in February.

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.

Even if they weren't bears, costumes were welcome.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Even if they weren't bears, costumes were welcome.

Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 40s Sunday and into the mid-50s on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

This season’s mild temperatures make it among the warmest of the 146 winters tracked in the region by the weather agency. In only five of those winters has the temperature failed to go below 15.