Dozens hit the Humber River for annual New Year’s Day polar bear dip

Chris Quigley
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CORNER BROOK  It was a last-minute decision that led Derek Parrill into the gelid water of the Humber River on New Year’s Day.

“I wasn’t going to do it at all,” said the 27-year-old Steady Brook resident. “I live across the street, I brought my swimming trunks out ... There were second thoughts. But when I started going, I just ran out there.”

Parrill was one of about 30 warm-blooded bodies taking part in the annual polar bear dip at the waterfront property of Gavin White.

White himself was the only person to muster the nerve at the inaugural event six years ago, but it has grown in popularity every year since.

Parrill, a friend of White’s, said he felt the peer pressure to participate.

“Gavin’s been at me to join in,” he said. “Everybody else was doing it.”

A native of Pines Cove, on the Northern Peninsula, Parrill said he couldn’t feel anything when he first hit the water.

“I just ran out and ran back,” he said. “There wasn’t much swimming.”

“It was worse getting out,” he added. “When I got out, my legs and feet were froze.”

He estimates he was submerged for only a couple of minutes, but it took him a while to warm back up. White has a waterfront sauna, which Parrill and others made a beeline for after their scamper out of the water.

Once the blue tinge had left his lips and he was sitting comfortably at a friend’s house, about to enjoy a New Year’s Day dinner, Parrill said the dip was an enjoyable experience and he’d do it again.

He even happily discovered one surprising benefit to taking the plunge.

“It got rid of the hangover,” he said with a laugh.

Geographic location: Humber River, Steady Brook, Pines Cove

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