Polar plunges in Fall River, Salem, Yarmouth postponed amid freezing conditions

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File 2017

The brutal cold isn’t stopping the L Street Brownies New Year’s swim in South Boston, which will be held Monday.

By Globe Staff 

New Year’s Day polar plunges in Fall River, Salem, and Yarmouth have been postponed because of frigid temperatures.

Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II released a statement Thursday announcing that the Jan. 1 polar plunge “has been cancelled due to the dangerous inclement weather expected for that day” and “will be rescheduled for a future date.”


Yarmouth’s annual plunge, which takes place at Smuggler’s Beach and raises money for the town’s senior center, has been postponed until Jan. 21, Yarmouth Deputy Chief Steven G. Xiarhos said.

Xiarhos said there were concerns that the cold weather might increase the risk of someone having a heart attack or even drowning.

“We’ve been watching the weather all week,” Xiarhos said. “We decided yesterday that we should postpone it.”

Organizers of the Polar Bear Dip & Dash in Portland, Maine, came to a similar conclusion. Judy Berk, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said the 5K run will still happen Dec. 31, but the “dip” portion of the event will not.

“This is the first time we have had to do this, but after consulting with medical professionals we think it is just too cold to jump into the ocean this Sunday,” she said in an e-mail.


In Salem, the 9th annual Freeze Your Tush Off was also postponed because of the weather. In a Facebook post, organizers said the “real feel” temperature on New Year’s Day was anticipated to be -19 with 32 miles per hour wind gusts coming out of the northwest. Such conditions, organizers said, are dangerous and would put people at risk. The event was postponed to Jan. 20.

But the brutal cold isn’t stopping the L Street Brownies New Year’s swim in South Boston and the Plunge 4 Pete event in Gloucester on Saturday. Organizers say both events will happen as scheduled, weather be damned.

“Yes, we’re still on,” said John Frates, whose son Pete has waged a much-publicized battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “We have people coming from near and far, all his wild and crazy friends and all our supporters. So we really can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube on this one.”

The annual plunge will take place at Good Harbor Beach as planned, Frates said.

“We’re going to take all precautions and not encourage people to jump if they don’t feel comfortable doing so,” he said. “We’re gonna race in and race out.”

The L Street Brownies are also moving forward with their plans to hold their New Year’s swim Monday at the Curley Community Center in South Boston.

Sandy Holden, a spokeswoman for Boston Centers for Youth & Families, said there will be lifeguards on duty, Boston police and EMS will be present, and “because of the cold, we will have warm areas in the building available before and after the swim.”

At a news conference Friday where Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh discussed public safety issues related to the cold, a reporter asked him whether he would tell the Brownies not to take the plunge.

“You can try to do that,” he joked, adding later, “You can’t force somebody not to have an event like that. It’s just like we can’t force somebody who’s homeless to come in. . . . They might not have as big a crowd as they’ve had in the past, and if they are, they’re going to get [out of] that water really fast.”

While the weather might be iffy for swimming, it hasn’t affected the operations of local ski slopes in Massachusetts. Both Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton and Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford reported being open for business as usual Friday morning, as did Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton.

On Thursday, Wildcat Mountain in New Hampshire had to close because of the cold. “Wildcat will be closed today (Dec. 28) due to sub zero temperatures & high winds resulting in wind chills below -50 degrees,” the ski area tweeted. “The safety of our guests and staff is our priority. Sister mountain @AttitashResort is open — all tix valid there too.”

But by Friday morning, Wildcat was back in business and open to skiing once again. “It feels sweet out there!” Wildcat officials wrote at 9:30 a.m. “Our summit is a balmy 5 degrees with no winds which makes it one of the warmest spots in the state of NH!”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at
Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney. Globe correspondent Jeremy C. Fox and Danny McDonald of Globe staff contributed to this report.