El Luchadore | Photo by Daniel Nash
El Luchadore | Photo by Daniel Nash

Some people think of the first day of the new year as just another day. Others like to ring it in with a shock to the system.

Hundreds of Seattleites in the latter category swarmed Matthews Beach on Jan. 1 to run into the cold waters of Lake Washington in celebration of New Year's Day 2017. The polar bear plunge has been put on by Seattle Parks and Recreation since 

Most participants in the polar bear plunge charged into the waters in their summer-wear bathing suits, while some donned costumes. One brave plunger in a cardboard giraffe costume hobbled through the water at a snail's pace, encumbered by her giant boxy costume torso and "legs" attached to her arms.

Polar bear plunges -- in which people jump en masse into cold bodies of water in the dead of winter -- are held across North America and Europe to ring in the new year or raise money for charity. Seattle Parks and Recreation has organized the local polar bear plunge since 1993.