SAN PEDRO ( — More than a thousand people in the Southland welcomed the arrival of the New Year with a dip in the ocean Wednesday.

In Huntington Beach, hundreds of adventurers took a dip in the ocean for the 14th Annual Surf City Splash.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports several swimmers came dressed as superheroes.

In San Pedro, an estimated one thousand men, women and children of all ages became polar bears.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports it’s all part of the 62nd annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear “Swim or Dip” at Cabrillo Beach.

Participants in the event – which last year drew over 700 brave souls – are allowed to wear bathing suits into the water for a brief swim or just to get wet, but wetsuits are not permitted.

Mary Samaris, a self-described “polar bear” for 35 to 40 years, predicted an unseasonably warm winter could lure even more participants on the first day of 2014, with water temperatures in the 50s.

It was a great day to become a first-time polar bear, according to 80-year-old Ramon from Houston.

“Beautiful, because I should have done it before,” he said.

“This is my first time doing this, and I want to do it every year. It’s fantastic. I feel so alive right now,” said one woman.

In addition to coffee, hot cocoa and cupcakes, an official certificate were provided to everyone who took the plunge. Lifeguards helped at least one swimmer get back to shore.

The tradition traces back to 1953, when John Olguin and Jack Cheney started the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears, a group devoted to promoting health, physical fitness and community service.


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