COEUR d'ALENE - When Tiffany Korver arrived for Tuesday's Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Coeur d'Alene, she wasn't smiling.
She wasn't overly excited, either, about jumping into the near-freezing water.
"I'm so scared I'm going to cry," she said to her friends already standing on Sanders Beach as the final minutes to the noon dip counted down. "I don't think you understand, I do not do cold well."
But the Spokane woman couldn't say no when friend Lori Delorme of Plummer called and asked, 'You're usually game for anything, aren't you?'"
"I said, 'Sure,' but I didn't think it was going to be this."
Korver not only had never taken the Plunge, she said when she visits Coeur d'Alene in the summer, she has a hard enough time making herself jump into the lake.
"And I'm getting in now," she said, a frightened frown on her face. "I could cry."
A few minutes later, though, having joined about 1,000 others who dove into the lake for a New Year's Day tradition that has been going on since 1978, Korver wasn't crying.
Shivering, shaking, trembling, yes. But no tears.
"I don't even know yet," she said, when asked how she was feeling. "I just need a moment."
"I can't believe that this really happened," she added.
But it did, even with a few snowflakes drifting down on the crowd gathered along the sandy shoreline.
At noon, they dashed and dove, then came up screaming and running for towels and hot coffee.
The 21-degree temperature, for some, made the 40-degree water seem, well, warm.
Many came out claiming it felt good, great, refreshing, even exhilarating.
"It's warmer than the air," said Brendon Kedish of Rathdrum, plunging with friends for the fourth year.
Donnie Shove of Coeur d'Alene, a 20-year polar bear plunger, called the big splash something to do, something different.
"Once a year, not bad," he said.
It was a happy, carefree crowd. Most came out the same way they went in - grinning and laughing and howling.
Most stripped down to shorts and bathing suits, while a few, like Delorme in her Wonder Woman outfit, wore costumes and reveled in the madness of the moment.
Jeff Eastwood of Hayden donned his Fourth of July outfit - red, white and blue flag, hat and shorts.
"I'm rocking," he said.
A cape was part of his get-up, too.
"America will keep me warm when I'm done," he said.
Eastwood, a newbie to the Polar Bear Plunge, said it was something he has always wanted to do. It was a baptism of sorts, too, for Eastwood, who said he was enjoying newfound sobriety and recently got engaged to Amy Scott of Hayden.
"So we're excited," he said.
Well, he was.
"I'm only doing it because of him," Scott added, smiling.
Rick Kiln came over from Libby, Mont., and not only dunked under water, but spent 15 minutes standing, floating and paddling just off the lake's shoreline.
It's easy for him and other members of the Polar Bear Club. They practice. From October to April, they jump into Libby Creek, and its 35-degree water, every Sunday at 2 p.m.
"My body stays nice and warm, I don't shiver," he said, a big grin on his bearded face.
Most do, though.
For some, it was so cold, that initial dip was a bit shocking. Heck, it hurt.
"It takes your breath away," Delorme said. "It's like, freezing, but it makes it so worth it when you come out, and you can say you did it."
Korver can claim exactly that now.
Once, though, may be enough, bragging rights or not.
"When I can feel my toes again, I'll decide whether I'll do it again," she said.