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Go Here: Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Swim in NY

Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Pics
Jackie Mancini

Some people believe that the way you spend the first day of the new year is an indication of how the rest of your your year will be. If this holds any water, my 2013 is going to be really weird, and really awesome.

I grew up in Brooklyn. Wait, not so fast; not cool Brooklyn — I grew up in Sheepshead Bay, right near Coney Island. Our neighborhood was largely Russian, and there were no hip coffee shops or record stores — it was old school, working-class Brooklyn.

Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Pics
Jackie Mancini

I credit my development into the weirdo adult that I am today to my formative upbringing split between an apartment in close proximity to both the boardwalk and an apartment in the village — the dichotomy allowed me lots of freedom to pick and choose what kind of person I would grow up to be. However, both of these places represent the highest population of weirdos in New York, which makes a lot of sense. Coney Island is definitely the weirdest place in NY, though, and filled with amazing characters that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Pics
Jackie Mancini

These characters are a daily fixture, but on no other day of the year are they more heavily concentrated than on New Year’s Day, for the Polar Bear Club Swim – a well-established tradition where old men with huge potbellies and assorted other lunatics run into the Atlantic Ocean on New Years Day in celebration of new beginnings, virility, and insanity.

Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Pics
Jackie Mancini

I went this year, and though I didn’t swim because I am a big wuss and it was snowing a little, I documented it for you. This guy was my favorite, so much so that I approached him to tell him that he had officially won the contest for best human. He was delighted with the news:

Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Pics
Jackie Mancini

As you think about the year ahead of you, I highly recommend considering a trip to New York to ring in 2014. There’s nothing like watching a group of deliriously happy, freezing cold, adrenaline-filled people swimming in weird costumes and screaming their heads off to help you shrug off last year. It was a pretty potent reminder to stop taking life so seriously. When you hear stories about New Yorkers being unfriendly, remember that they also sometimes start imprompu dance parties:

One of my resolutions is to jump in next year — Hold me to it?

Next Awesome Place: The Button King Museum

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