Polar Bear Plunge, set for New Year’s Day, cancelled due to unsafe conditions.
Many residents ready to literally jump into 2016 at the annual Polar Bear Plunge on Friday will have to wait.
The Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club decided to postpone “due to extreme weather and lake conditions,” according to the group’s website.
The lake was almost 5 feet above winter full pool Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Braff, president of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, said the organization made the decision for two reasons: flooding at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue where the event takes place each New Year’s Day and increased debris in the lake.
“The main problem is debris in the water,” Braff said, noting tree branches and limbs are floating around making the lake unsafe for Polar Bear participants.
Braff said the lake’s high water level is also limiting access for Polar Bear Plunge participants and spectators.
“They would have to wade through the water to get to the dry dock to jump in,” he said. “That creates a problem with safety.”
And the area reserved for “chickens,” or those wanting to participate but not jump into the lake, is flooded, leaving them no place to watch.
Braff said this is the first year he knows of the Polar Bear Plunge being postponed.
“We even hold it if it’s raining and cold or sunny and warm,” he said.
Braff said the club is waiting to see what action the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to take with the lake level before selecting a new date.
“And we don’t want to conflict with other events,” Braff said, adding the club plans to reschedule the event for later in January. “The sooner we hold it, the better. For a lot of people this is a tradition and this is the way they start the new year.”
Jean G. Thomas