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Polar Bear Plunge postponed because of low lake levels
Stephanie McClusky, Sarah Pruitt, Cathy Daniel and Amy Bagby jump into the lake together at last year’s Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s 19th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Clark’s Bridge Park. Awards were given for best costume, best splash, best jump and more. This year’s event will be in February because of low levels of the lake.

Polar Bear Plunges

Unicoi State Park and Lodge

When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31

Where: Unicoi State Park and Lodge, 788 Ga. 356, Helen

Cost: $10 individual, $25 family, $5 parking fee

More info: or 800-573-9659


Lake Lanier Olympic Park

When: February

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

More info:

Those looking to ring in the new year with a splash will have to wait a few weeks.

The annual Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Lanier has been postponed again this year.

The plunge was delayed last year because of flooding. This year, the opposite has occurred. Dangerously low water levels because of drought have forced the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club to postpone the event until early February.

“We didn’t want to just outright cancel the event,” incoming LCKC President Tracy Barth said. “We wanted to postpone it, because it is a tradition and we want to see that tradition carried on.”

Along with low water levels, Barth said debris sticking up from the water and just below the surface made conditions unsafe for a traditional New Year’s Day jump. This year will be the 20th anniversary of the annual club fundraiser.

Last year, about 75 jumpers dove into the icy cold waters in February, but Barth said the event typically brings in 125 participants. She said many local residents, including Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann, have participated nearly every year.

Barth said recent rains have helped increase water levels, but the club wants to be sure the levels are safe before confirming a rescheduled date. She said waiting until February will also ensure jumpers get the most out of the experience.

“It’s always colder in February,” she said. “So that makes it a true frigid jump.”

For more information, visit

For residents who can’t wait that long, Unicoi State Park and Lodge will have its Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Eve at 788 Ga. 356 in Helen.

The Unicoi plunge will take place at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 31 with a bonfire and hot chocolate to warm up jumpers. Registration is $10 per person or $25 per family along with a $5 parking fee.

To register, email or call 800-573-9659.