Waterville's Polar Bear Plunge draws hundreds despite frigid temperatures.

Waterville's Polar Bear Plunge draws hundreds despite frigid temperatures.

WATERVILLE, OH (WTOL) - For many in the Greater Toledo Area, New Years Day is all about jumping into the frigid cold water to kick the new year off right.

For the 89th year, hundreds gathered on the banks of the Maumee River in Waterville to bring in the new year with a quick, cold dip.

"I have to do it because I told everyone I was doing it, so I'm already fully committed," said Jackie from Toledo.

"I know it's going to be cold, I just want to know I can do it and not be a wimp and just make this a tradition," said Elana Kohlman, who decided to participate while sitting at home on New Years Eve.

The Waterville Polar Bear Plunge is one of the longest running plunges in the country and has grown every year. And despite the 10 degree temperature when the plunge began, many were here for the first time.

Along with being a fun New Year's Day tradition, it is also done to honor the man who started the tradition back in 1929.

Herb Mericle began the tradition 89 year ago, and his legacy lives on in the hundreds of participants Monday.

"He used to do three push ups in the river to make sure that his jump was really official. But yes, we're doing this all in honor of him," said Molly Good with the Waterville Historical Society. "It's all about Herb and he's one of the great great Waterville residents that we have and he's made this town a great town."

For many taking the plunge, it's a way to overcome a huge obstacle early in the year, so the rest of 2018 can feel like a cakewalk in comparison.

"We thought it'd be a good way to face 2018 with a challenge, and overcome that challenge," said first-year participant Christy Frank.

"2017 was kind of a rough year for people. They're looking for ways to kind of break up that monotony. You know what, 2018, you're my year, and we're going to do what we cant to make it special," said Good.

The Waterville Historical Society will began planning for the 90th Polar Bear Plunge in a few months.

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