Polar Bear sighting at Coney Island

To start the New Year shuttering, photography instructor Curtis Willocks takes his photo club to Coney Island on New Year’s day. There another club meets:  It’s the Polar Bears‘ yearly pilgrimage and first swim of the New Year.  

                      The  Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day swim 
These bears and their onlookers come in all sizes, shapes and costumes.  “It’s like an arts festival,” says Willocks who has been coaxing students to photograph the Polar Bear’s first swim since 1987. There’s the Rubby Ducky and Metro Man and other strange people. There’s some people in bathing who shouldn’t be in bathing suits.  We go and have fun.” And yes, confirms Willocks. “We all swim.”
             “It’s like an arts festival down there” says Willocks

It’s a tradition now. After the swim Willocks’ group goes to a Vietnamese restaurant. “We eat for two or three hours. It’s the way we start the New Year.”

                        The Polar Bears Club’s first swim of the New Year
According to The Coney Island Polar Bear Club website, the Club was founded in 1903 by Bernarr Macfadden.  The “Father of Physical Culture,” Macfadden was an advocate of physical fitness and natural foods. 

Photos  by: FIT photography student and Polar Bear enthusiast Arina  Malukova

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