Winter Games: River Hospital's 22nd Annual Polar Bear Dip

The not-so-Cowardly Lion and his friend take a flying leap into the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence on Saturday.
Each February for the last 22 years, people from the North Country get together to raise funds for River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., by jumping into freezing water amidst near-zero temperatures at the annual Polar Bear Dip.

Though this winter's been frighteningly mild, Saturday was real windy, real cold, and not exactly the sort of day that would make you say You know what? I am dying to get in the river right now.

But despite the 30-degree water, this crowd couldn't be stopped.

Jumper after jumper strolled along the red carpet donning costumes of every style and cheering on their fundraising efforts for River Hospital (Spider Man alone netted more than $10,000 for the cause):

It was hard to get the Wicked Witch in the water, but the crowd and the on-site safety expert/supervisor saw to it that she got wet too:

Big thanks to everyone who jumped, everyone who donated, and everyone who came out to support such a worthy cause. Saturday’s record turnout boasted 49 more jumpers thank last year, and was expected to beat last year’s fundraising total of $55,000. All funds raised this year will go directly toward the upgrade of the radiology department's ultrasound and mammography equipment.

All photos and video by Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.