Eight Coney Island orgs will receive funds raised from Polar Bear Plunge

people at 2020 polar bear plunge
Eight Coney Island organizations are receiving funds raised during the 2022 Polar Bear Plunge.
File photo by Erica Price

Eight Coney Island-based organizations have been named to receive part of the $25,000 raised at the 2022 Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, which sent hundreds of New Yorkers into the freezing Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day.

“The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is once again excited to offer financial support to non-profit organizations within the Coney Island Community,” said Dennis Thomas, president of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, in a statement. “As we acknowledge the great work happening among them and the benefits they bring to the community. 

Hundreds of daring swimmers took the icy dip in costumes, bathing suits and other non-winter attire for the 119th year of the event— after raising thousands of dollars from sponsors supporting each participant’s run into the icy waves. This year’s plunge was the first in two years, after the pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2021 event. While COVID precautions meant the swim looked a little different than it has in the past — taking place over a number of hours rather than all at once — enthusiasm for the event and its charitable goals was as high as ever.

person watching polar bear plunge
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club has been hosting the annual plunge for more than 100 years, raising money for local organizations. File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

“We appreciate the generosity of all the attendees of our traditional annual New Year’s Day Plunge,” Thomas said. “Not only did they participate in a life-changing, challenging winter dip, but their donations help support and revitalize Coney Island.”

The organizations are selected to receive funding because they bring a positive impact to the surrounding Coney Island community and include: 

  • The New York Aquarium, which will support a number of local marine conservation projects.
  • Coney Island YMCA will use their funds to enroll children in the community into their summer camp. ‘
  • Coney Island USA will use the donation to continue to enliven Coney Island’s weird art history
  • Coney Island History Project will receive a donation that will support their historical documentary-making and archives they continue to produce. 
  • Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, a peninsular Brooklyn-based organization that hosts races and swims on the open water off of Coney Island Beach. 
  • Parachute Literary Arts hosts readings in historic spots in the neighborhood. 
  • New York State Marine Education Association strives to raise marine awareness 
  • City Parks Foundation offers varied programming in greenspaces throughout the five boroughs. 

The Alliance for Coney Island worked in partnership with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club to help channel the money raised to local organizations. 

kids look at fish in tank at new york aquarium
The New York Aquarium is one of eight local organizations set to receive money raised during this year’s Polar Bear Plunge. The aquarium will use the money for their conservation programs. File photo by Erica Price

“We are ecstatic to partner with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club to be the fundraising partner for the New Year’s Day Polar Plunge,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “Through this collaboration and being able to raise and regrant funds to our neighboring nonprofits to bring resources and support their work. We look forward to sending out these funds and seeing the support helping to fund these programs and activities for the youth.” 

Thomas added that you can expect the Polar Bear Plunge will be back next year for its 120th rendition. 

“We look forward to continuing the tradition in 2023 and hope all our attendees return and encourage their friends and family to participate in this awesome New York tradition,” Thomas said.