Plunge promises polar pain

New Year's Day tradition will be colder than usual

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COEUR d'ALENE - Planning to jump into Lake Coeur d'Alene on Saturday?

Climatologist Cliff Harris has some advice for you.

"Wear a fur bikini."

Because it's going to be cold. Very cold.

The Polar Bear Plunge is once again set for its traditional time and place, noon on New Year's Day at Sanders Beach. About 500 people are expected to run into the lake, dive under, and run even faster back out.

The first unofficial Polar Bear Plunge occurred Nov. 21, 1978.

This year's plunge promises to be even more challenging - temperatures will be about 10 degrees when the clock strikes 12. The low on Saturday is projected at minus 3 degrees in the morning.

"That will be the coldest we've been in a long time," Harris said. "That's when the cold air is coming in, Friday and Saturday."

The temperature of Lake Coeur d'Alene will be about 35 degrees Saturday.

There should also be plenty of snow on the ground, with this week's storms on Tuesday and Wednesday dumping up to 10 inches.

For those who want to be a Polar Bear Plunger, dress warm and bring:

* towels for drying off and for standing on.

* Wear sandals, aqua socks, old tennis shoes. Running in barefoot can be painful.

* coffee or hot chocolate is good.

* support crew to help you get back into dry clothes.

Some free advice: Don't stay in the water too long. Get in, get out, dry off.

Be sure to arrive early, about 30 minutes or so. There will be plenty of traffic and parking can be difficult to find. You should expect to walk several blocks to get to the plunge on the west end of Sanders Beach.

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