Search Result for : 2017 Polar Bear Swim

VIDEO: West Seattle Polar Bear Swim 2017 leaves hundreds soaked in New Year spirit

(Pre-swim photo by Jacob Nieman – note the crowd size!)

Thanks to everyone who shared photos and video from this morning’s 2017 West Seattle Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach!

(Photo by Robert Spears)

A good, if frosty, time was had by all, so far as we could tell – 33-degree air, 50-degree water, exactly the same as last year. Here’s our video of this morning’s countdown and run in:

(WSB video by Patrick Sand)

At the start of our clip, the countdown is being led by Mark Ufkes, who organizes this every year – he’s in the next photo with the megaphone:

(Photo by Russ Walker)

Here’s a wider view of the big splash:

(Video by Kendall Browne)

For some, the Polar Bear Swim is a spectator sport – this guy told us he was there to cheer on his 15-year-old daughter, participating for the first time:

(This photo and next 5 are by WSB’s Patrick Sand)

Some of the other sights – maybe the most-formal swimmer (or maybe just hadn’t been home since the NYE party):


Think we saw this dinosaur back on Halloween:


We noted the lampshade in a pre-swim tweet – and spotted it on the beach under someone else’s care:


Another standout hat:


Die-hard Cougar fan:


Maybe a tropical print helped make up for the almost-freezing air:

(Photo by Russ Walker)

Whatever you were or weren’t wearing, there was post-swim chowder, courtesy of nearby Duke’s:

(WSB photo)

And memories that will linger until next New Year’s Day:

(Photo by Robert Spears)

(WSB photo)

(added 7:30 pm) One more video of the big swim – this one is by Anthony Decena:

P.S. Here’s our coverage from previous years:

NEW YEAR’S DAY: West Seattle Polar Bear Swim is on for 2017!

(2016 Alki Polar Bear Swim photo by Scott Nelson)

Just got confirmation that the West Seattle Polar Bear Swim is on again for Sunday (New Year’s Day 2017). From organizer Mark Ufkes:

January 1, 2017, at 9:50 am, polar-bear swimmers will line up along the beach across from Duke’s.

With a countdown, at 10 am sharp we will hold hands with our friends and run into Puget Sound.

Bring water shoes, a towel, a change of clothes and your hopes and dreams for 2017 with you. Also bring the lessons you learned in 2016. Running into the water with friends and family will help you leave behind the complexities of 2016 and start the new year clean and burden-free. We hit the water at 10 sharp.

Thinking about trying it for the first time? Here’s our coverage from last year, including video and links to previous years’ coverage.

2020 West Seattle Polar Bear Swim plan, and a New Year’s wish, from organizer Mark Ufkes

polar-plunge(2017 photo by Robert Spears)

Lots of questions about whether this is on – and finally we can say yes. Once again, longtime community advocate Mark Ufkes will lead the West Seattle Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day morning. And once again this year, as in years past, his announcement voices political hopes and critiques. Here it is, as received:

West Seattle Polar Bear Swim
January 1, 2020 (The Year of Perfect Vision!)

We enter the water at 10 am sharp !

2020 is finally here. West Seattle’s Alki Beach is the place. Across from Dukes.

We run into the water at 10:00 am sharp, Wednesday, January 1, 2020. Last year we had about 700 swimmers, up from a handful of swimmers when we started this tradition over 15 years ago. Swimmers should bring a towel, good water shoes, and their hopes and dreams for the New Year.

We line up and down Alki beach in a long row, we hold hands with our family and friends (in my case, with my remarkable, beautiful wife Lois), count down from 10, 9, 8, 7 (be sure to wait for the countdown!), …. and at 10:00 sharp we run into Puget Sound screaming as if we are mildly insane. It’s all over in less than a minute, quite painless really, and everyone is happy and smiling afterword. There is something monumental about forcing ourselves out of our comfort zone and willingly jumping into Puget Sound to wash away the complexities of the previous year and invite the unlimited possibilities of the New Year into our lives.

What I want in 2020; well, I recently retired after 12 years as a Scoutmaster where I spent thousands of hours mentoring over 40 boys to complete their Eagle Scout award. I helped these Scouts (my two boys included) to develop a profound appreciation for our natural world and I always stressed several character traits that they need in adulthood.

First, I taught Scouts to never degrade or bully anyone. We can disagree, but everyone deserves respect. And if these Scouts see bullying, they have an obligation to intervene and stop it. Yet President Trump degrades and bullies others every day.

Second, I emphasized the importance of respecting family. Yet President Trump cheated on all three of his wives and bragged about sexually assaulting women. Imagine how his actions disrespected and hurt the self-esteem of these women and his children?

Third, I stressed that Scouts need to live a life of service to others in some form. Doing “a good turn daily”, the Scout Motto, should not be taken lightly. Yet President Trump created a non-profit to make us think that he was serving others, but he used the funds for himself. Trump’s action is really the moral equivalent of shoplifting at Goodwill.

Finally, I reminded these boys that when they turn 18, they must register for the military draft, consider military or other community service to pay America back, and that they should register and then vote. Trump had five deferments to avoid military service, and more important, he repeatedly ridiculed veterans who served honorably (think Senator John McCain and others). And Trump’s Republican operatives are pushing many states to make it harder for every legal citizen, 18 and older, to vote in 2020, because they know that lower voter turnouts help Republicans win.

So, for 2020, all I want is for America to realize that the Presidency of the United States reflects the moral character of our nation and that Donald Trump has proven that he does not deserve this great honor. And for all you outraged Trump supporters, all I can ask is this; “would you want your children to treat people the way Donald Trump treats people?”

Finally, I will be wearing pink again as usual on January 1, until the day that the majority of our Members of Congress are women and/or people of color, since these two groups are the American majority. That, my friends, is the only way we will truly Make America Great Again!

Mark L. Ufkes
Polar Bear Swimmer

Here’s our coverage from last year.

West Seattle New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2019 at Alki Beach is on!

(January 1, 2018, photo by Robert Spears)

For everyone who’s been asking/wondering about this – Mark Ufkes has just sent the announcement: The West Seattle New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim is on again, January 1, 2019, at Alki Beach:

There is no better way to wash away the complexities of 2018 and usher in the unlimited possibilities that 2019 holds for each of us than to run into Puget Sound, while holding hands with our family and friends and screaming like crazy.

We go into the water at 10 am sharp! Don’t be late.

We gather at 9:45 am on January 1 in front of Duke’s on Alki. We spread out east and west along beautiful Alki Beach in a long line. There will be 10-minute, 5-minute and 1-minute warnings, and at 10 seconds, together, we all begin counting down; 10-9-8-7 . . .

We then yell “Happy New Year,” hold hands with those next to us, and run into the water. It is all over in less than a minute.

Last year, well over 500 participated and a huge crowd cheered us on.

Again this year, all are encouraged to wear something pink into the water. You can wear pink for whatever reason you want; be it to honor your spectacular mom, to honor a dear friend who is fighting cancer, or to celebrate that finally, in 2019, girls will be able to become Eagle Scouts too (Yeah!). For me, I will be wearing pink for all these reasons and because for the first time in U.S. history, a state house legislative body, in Nevada no less, will have a women-majority legislature.

Whatever your personal reason, if you wear something pink into the water you will earn a gift. The first 200 people who wear something pink into the water will receive a free airport-confiscated wine bottle opener corkscrew that I won at a TSA auction. And hey kids, if you wear something pink, your parents must take charge of your free corkscrew and offer you something in trade. After the swim, there will be a table at the beach full of every kind of corkscrew you can imagine. Every swimmer wearing something pink can chose one as a gift.

What you should bring: Good water shoes, a large towel, a change of dry clothes, and your hopes and dreams for 2019.

What you should leave behind: Your fears, your inhibitions, and your self-doubt.

(See our 2018 video/photos here.) Adding to the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide‘s New Year’s Day section along with the New Year’s Eve/Day walk info that’s also just come in – if you have something open to the community that’s happening in West Seattle/White Center/South Park between now and New Year’s Day, there’s still time to send it – – thank you!

VIDEO: See the sea of people who swarmed Alki Beach for New Year’s Day 2018 Polar Bear Plunge

(WSB video/photos unless otherwise credited)

The air was 38 degrees, the water was 46 degrees, and the politics were intermittent at this year’s Alki Beach Polar Bear Plunge.

We mention politics because in case you missed the original announcement, which almost made it onto the WSB Most-Commented-On Stories of 2017 list, longtime organizer Mark Ufkes included a statement that he planned to wear pink into the water in support of, among other things, electing women.

In the ensuing triple-digit comment thread, Mark also made the point that the swim was of course open to all, as always, whatever your politics. But at this morning’s swim, no speeches – just the traditional countdown, followed by a quick en-masse, shrieking run into the water and, for most, a quick run out. Swimmers wore a variety of outfits, from pink, to red-white-and-blue, to sports-fan gear, and more – here’s a sample:

Side note – Organizer Mark also brought corkscrews, free to anybody who wanted one – he explained that he had bid on a batch of unclaimed corkscrews confiscated by the TSA – he thought he was getting 100 but instead received 1,000. (He also bid on Swiss Army-type knives that he obtained and gave to Boy Scouts – he’s a longtime Scoutmaster and parent of Eagle Scouts.) Here’s his pre-swim photo of the corkscrews:

Other sightings at the Polar Bear Swim – offshore spectators:

And just as we got ready to publish this report – two photos from Bob Spears (the second, showing someone who really did plunge rather than run):

(Added) From Bailey – The spirit of Christmas (and more) lingered into New Year’s for this trio:

(Added) Turns out that Alki open-water swimmer Andrew Malinak was in the boat shown a few photos up. We thought we heard sea-lion barking when we arrived at the beach, and one of his photos caught two of the five sea lions he reports counting:

Here are two of his photos from just before, and during, the plunge:

ADDED TUESDAY: From Erik Bell:

Any favorite photos/video to share? – thanks!

P.S. Past years’ WSB coverage:

What you need to know for West Seattle New Year’s Day 2017

(Thanks to Deborah in Highland Park for the photo)

Happy snowy New Year’s Day! Here’s information you might find helpful:


POLAR BEAR SWIM: Gather at 9:50 am along Alki Beach across from Duke’s – everybody in the water at 10 am sharp. (Alki Avenue SW & 58th SW)

NEW YEAR’S LABYRINTH WALK: Noon-2 pm at Our Lady of Guadalupe. (35th SW/SW Myrtle)

OTHER EVENTS TODAY … including special church services … are listed in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide.

FARMERS’ MARKET CLOSED: But it’s back to every-Sunday operation NEXT week, on January 8th.

SEATTLE PARKS FACILITIES: Here’s the closure list.


TRANSIT: Regular Sunday schedules unless the bus is still on a snow route because of the early-morning snowfall. For Metro, check here.

VIDEO: Hundreds launch 2016 with a splash via the West Seattle Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach

(Video/photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand, unless otherwise credited)
Clear sky, 33-degree air, 50-degree water, and hundreds of cheery participants combined for this year’s West Seattle Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach this morning. Here’s the leader of the countdown you hear in the video, organizer Mark Ufkes:

He went in wearing his “I (Heart) White Center” T-shirt. As usual, the crowd was peppered with costumes and uniforms – and it’s not a Polar Bear Swim without the softball umpires:

Another group went prehistoric:

The most popular “costume” generally involved head/face gear of some kind:

(This photo and next one by Scott Nelson)
The Olympics provided a beautiful backdrop:

To get the internal temperature back up afterward, free chowder courtesy of Duke’s (right across the street from the gathering spot for the “swim”):

Can’t guarantee the sunshine but the day and time are locked in – so mark your calendar for New Year’s Day 2017!

P.S. Our clip from the sidewalk gives you more of an idea of how many people were on the beach before, during, and after:

Past years’ WSB coverage:

(Reviewing our links, you might be surprised to see it’s been sunny on NYD more often than not!)

UPDATE: West Seattle snow to start the new year

5:10 AM: In the past few hours, we’ve seen half an inch or so of snow here in Upper Fauntleroy, east of Lincoln Park. At least, that’s how much has stuck to cars, fence tops, and planting strips. More is falling, but it’s also melting in the street – audibly, by the storm drains – and driving down toward The Junction was no problem. It’s still snowing lightly, and the National Weather Service‘s 3 am “forecast discussion” says: “The Seattle metro will continue to see a threat of snow through the morning as the back edge of a band (currently over the San Juans and Skagit) pushes south. A trace to 1/2″ of snow is possible…with up to 1″ at the high end.” South of here, the NWS says, they’ve seen more.

5:17 AM: Buses are on snow routes around King County, including here, according to Metro’s website. West Seattle is in what Metro calls the South Seattle zone, so you can use that to sort the updates on this page.

6 AM: Sounds (and looks) from comments so far that eastern/southern West Seattle is snowiest.

(Added: Photo from Mike R. in Arbor Heights)

8:41 AM: From Metro:

8:51 AM: And now the C Line is back to its regular route too.

9:46 AM: Looks like little if any snow on Alki, at least as seen by our crew in photographing Polar Bear Swimmers on the way to the 10 am event (the lampshade caught our attention):


No more snow in the forecast so far, but it’s expected to be cold for the next few days, highs in the 30s, lows in the 20s.

West Seattle Holiday Guide

November 12, 2016 12:32 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle Holiday Guide

Updated 12/31/19: Welcome to this year’s WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide! Holiday event or venue missing? Please let us know ASAP so we can add it!


NYE/NYD WALKS: “Walk with us on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Start at St John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 3050 California Ave SW, and walk different routes each day. And enjoy hot soup and snacks after your outing. On NY Eve, start anytime between 4 and 7 PM. On NY Day, anytime between 9 AM and noon. The NY Eve 10K walk will head down to Alki for great views of lights around the Bay and the neighborhood. On NY Day, the 10K route goes through the Junction and down to the Sound, walking to the Lighthouse and back up through Schmitz Park. There are shorter, 5K options available on both days. Please join us. For more info,

ADMIRAL PUB: Roaring 2020s New Year’s Eve Party. (2306 California SW)

POGGIE TAVERN: Tim Turner Band on New Year’s Eve, 9 pm-1 am. 21+. (4717 California SW)

LADY JAYE: Restaurant/bar open 3 pm-12:30 am, champagne toast at midnight. (4523 California SW)

PACIFIC ROOM ON ALKI (WSB sponsor): New Year’s Eve Party with Whitney Mongé, Payge Turner, DJ and more! 7 pm-1 am. Tickets and details here. (2808 Alki SW)

MISSION CANTINA (WSB sponsor): Restaurant/bar pen late – until 1 am – with tequila toast at midnight. Plus Happy Hour 4 PM-6 PM & 10 PM-12 AM. (2325 California SW)


A #SeattleFunk New Year’s Eve w/ Cecil Moses & the SGs

Roar into a new decade @ Parliament Tavern as we kick 2019 to the curb and welcome in the unbridled clarity of 2020.

We’ll spend the evening getting down with our friends and neighbors to the real deal #SeattleFunk of Cecil Moses & the SGs – with very special guest Jessica Lurie!!

Music kicks off @ 9, Champagne toast @ midnight. DJ and dancing well into the night. $10 @ the door. 21+.

(4210 SW Admiral Way)

THE SKYLARK: 9 pm New Year’s Eve party with Polly O’Keary and The Rhythm Method, Toby C. Brady, Nick Mardon Trio, $8 cover, 21+. (3803 Delridge Way SW)

From the West Seattle Junction Association:

Matador Restaurant Champagne Toast! Raise a glass of bubbles at the popular Matador champagne toast. While you’re there, make sure you sample some of the best Happy Hour menu items in the Junction. Those nachos…swoon. What a way to close out 2019.

Mashiko Restaurant Dinner Pre Fix. 2 hour dinner for two for $100 on New Year’s Eve or $50 pp for solo diners or larger parties. Menu developed day of NYE! Mashiko will also be offering a featured bottle sake for that evening!

Shadowland proudly presents “2020” A new years celebration. Bring your friends and get ready to ring in the new year with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Featuring music from DJ ABV aka Nick Weitzel.

Talarico’s Pizzeria NYE Karaoke. Grab a slice and a seat. Talaricos is open all day New Year’s Eve 11 AM – 2 AM. Karaoke on NYE at 10 PM with party favors and celebration decor to bring in the new year fun.

The Alley – Ring in the New Year at The Alley! 4 PM to 2 AM – Live music and no cover. Enjoy a fun night out sipping handcrafted cocktails that only The Alley can deliver and listen to live music by Patrick Rifflin. Free champagne toast at midnight.

MORE BAR/RESTAURANT PARTIES: We’ll add listings as we get them!

(WSB file photo)

NOT-SO-SILENT-NIGHT PARADE AND CORNER BAR: Highland Park Improvement Club‘s New Year’s Eve parade and party plan, starting with the Corner Bar at 6 pm, which is also when to gather with noisemakers for the all-ages neighborhood walking parade. (1116 SW Holden)

(Photo by David Hutchinson)

MIDNIGHT FIREWORKS: Visible from any place in West Seattle where you can see the Space Needle! Scope your spot in advance, though, since some viewpoints might have overgrown since your last visit.

NEW YEAR’S DAY POLAR BEAR SWIM: The announcement is in – so plan on being at Alki for the big run-in/run-out, 10 am sharp on January 1st! (Here’s our video/photo coverage from last NYD.)

NEW YEAR’S DAY NIA CLASS: From Move2Center in The Triangle:

Celebrate the start of 2020 and our two-year anniversary with a New Year’s Day Nia Class at Move2Center! We’re creating a 75-minute playlist to help people dance in a new era with an infusion of positive energy. Class begins at 10 am at Move2Center Studio, located at 3618 SW Alaska St (in the lower level of the West Seattle Veterans building). Newcomers can enjoy special drop-in fee of $10.

Let us know if you have a New Year’s Eve/Day event that’s not here yet!



Come and join us as we draw near to Bethlehem and welcome Christ our Savior!

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
December 31st at 5 PM
January 1st at 9 AM

On January 5th we will have our annual celebration of Epiphany with the Croatian Community.

The 10:30 AM Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Mueggenborg with music by the Croatian Community Choir.

A Dalmatian Feast will follow with proceeds supporting the Junior Tamburitzans.


ALL SEASON LONG: The Menashe Family Lights are the biggest and brightest display in West Seattle.

(WSB photo, first night of this season)

They started this year’s display on Thanksgiving Eve. We’re checking to find out its last night. (5605 Beach Drive SW)

ALL SEASON: Music-synched West Seattle Yuletide – see the updated schedule here. 5-9 pm nightly through New Year’s Day. (38th SW between SW Genesee and SW Dakota

LIGHT DISPLAYS AROUND WEST SEATTLE: We featured one every night through Christmas on the front page. See them all by scrolling through this coverage archive.