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  • About 60 people took the plunge on Jan. 1, 1978 for the Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Day plunge in the St. Joseph River. (Journal Gazette file photo)

  • Ice on the St. Joseph River was broken up with an ax and pushed aside with brooms before anyone could jump in on Jan. 1, 1978. (Journal Gazette file photo)

  • Ice on the St. Joseph River had to be broken up with an ax before anyone could jump in on Jan. 1, 1978. (Journal Gazette file photo)

  • Temperatures were in the upper 20s on Jan. 1, 1978 for the Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Day plunge in the St. Joseph River. (Journal Gazette file photo)

  • About 60 people took the plunge on Jan. 1, 1978 for the Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Day plunge in the St. Joseph River south of the Tennessee Avenue Bridge. About 200 spectators watched from the banks of the river and from the bridge. (Journal Gazette file photo) 

  • About 60 people took the plunge on Jan. 1, 1978 for the Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Day plunge in the St. Joseph River. (Journal Gazette file photo)

  • About 200 people gathered to watch the New Year's Day swim in the St. Joseph River on Jan. 1, 1978. Here, swimmers wait for an area to be prepared in the ice. (Journal Gazette file photo)

Monday, December 31, 2018 10:30 am

Looking Back: Polar Bear Club's 1978 New Year's Day swim

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

According to a photo caption in The Journal Gazette the following morning, more than 60 people joined the Polar Bear Club's 39th annual New Year's Day dip in the St. Joseph River near the Tennessee Avenue Bridge on Jan. 1, 1978. Temperatures were in the upper 20s and the river was full of ice that had to be broken up. About 200 people gathered to cheer them on.

There will be a Polar Bear Swim at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the boat launch off Harry Baals Drive at Johnny Appleseed Park.

Here are some photos from the 2018 swim: http://www.journalgazette.net/news/local/20180101/2018-polar-plunge-at-johnny-appleseed-park

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Looking Back is a feature of History Journal, which shares photos and stories from The Journal Gazette archive. To comment on a History Journal item or to suggest a date or subject to be featured, email Corey McMaken at cmcmaken@jg.net.