Jacksonport Polar Bear Club 24th Annual Plunge

The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club annual plunge into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day at noon has grown from a single swimmer in 1986 to a crowd of hundreds of “polar bears.” Photo by John J. Ottow.

The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club’s 24th Annual Plunge into Lake Michigan is just around the corner. On New Year’s Day at precisely noon, folks with polar bear tendencies are invited to take the plunge at Lakeside Park in Jacksonport, and everyone is invited to watch the festivities.

Starting at 8 am on New Year’s Day, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast will take place at the Town Hall on Hwy. V. The pancake breakfast will be served by the Great Pancake Show until 11 am, and proceeds will benefit participating fire departments. Cost per plate is $8/adult and $6/child.

A registration table will be set up at Lakeside Park beginning at 10:30 am to accommodate all swimmers who must sign a liability release form before participating in the event. There is no charge to participate, but all participants and onlookers are asked to make a donation or bring some non-perishable food items to donate to Feed My People, a local food pantry. A van will be on the premises, and hopes are to fill the van in order to fill the cupboards after the holidays.

Souvenir Polar Bear t-shirts, caps, lapel pins and fleece jackets are offered for sale at the registration tent, and hot beverages will also be available at the registration shelter.

The swim is held precisely at noon, with the crowd favorite 10-second countdown preceding the massive influx of swimmers into the lake. All participants receive a free official Jacksonport Polar Bear Club Membership Card and a Certificate of Participation in the annual event.

The Jacksonport Polar Bear Club first started in Jacksonport with one swimmer in 1986. It wasn’t until 1989 that the number tripled from one to three swimmers. The club has seen rapid growth since then and often attracts an estimated 800 swimmers with well over 2,000 spectators there to witness the event.

Other Jacksonport businesses that will be open on New Year’s Day, January 1 include: Mike’s Port Pub, 10 am; JJ’s of Jacksonport, 11 am; and Jacksonport Craft Cottage, 9 am.

For more information visit or or phone 920.823.2288.