Sisters Rowan and Miranda Sepos were among approximately 200 participants — many in costume — who took part in the 2015 Polar Bear Splash at Parksville's Community Beach. The 2016 Splash takes place at noon New Year's Day.

Parksville plans big splash into New Year

Hundreds expected to brave waters off coast in annual Jan. 1 plunge

The New Year will come in with a splash for hundreds of area residents when the Regional District of Nanaimo hosts its 26th annual Polar Bear Splash into the waters at Parksville Beach at noon on Jan. 1.

While many friends and supporters watch and cheer from the shore, bundled in coats, scarves and toques, participants will race — often accompanied by shrieks and squeals — into the frigid waters in swimsuits or colourful costumes to celebrate the turning of the calendar.

“The crowds keep growing, which is nice,” said Mike Chestnut, RDN aquatics director. “Last year, I think we had over 200 supporters that came out.”

The event is supported by volunteers from Arrowsmith Search and Rescue’s water rescue team, who will be stationed in the water, and by Parksville Fire Department firefighters and first responders, who will be present to provide shoreside medical aid as needed.

Hot chocolate, coffee and snacks will be available by donation.

The Polar Bear Splash is open to participants of all ages. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., with the actual plunge scheduled for noon.

The splash began in 1990, and has experienced cyclical fluctuation in turnout throughout the years. But participation has been on the upswing this decade.

“I thought last year we hit about 200 participants,” said Chestnut. “It’s had sort of a resurgence in the last couple of years.”

RDN staff remind splashers and their supporters to bring along a few extra items like water shoes, an extra towel or two and a warm change of clothes.

For reasons of safety, the RDN also asks participants to be aware of and moderate their consumption of alcohol the night before the splash.

For more information, visit the Polar Bear Splash group on Facebook or call 250-752-5014.

Just Posted

Parksville Qualicum Beach legions set to launch Poppy Campaign

Annual fundraiser to run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 11

Bear sightings up significantly in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Fruit trees number one food attractant, says conservation officer

Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Thieves pilfer laptops, tools, big-screen TV, cash and more

Oceanside RCMP received 256 complaints between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5.

Qualicum Bay writer Linda Tenney dies after battle with cancer

Celebration of life set for Nov. 2 at Lighthouse Community Centre

Pole-climbing thieves pilfering wire in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Repairs are costly and thefts jeopardize public safety

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read