Ray Tenisci will have bottle up his Jan. 1 first aid ‘liquids’ until 2022 because the pandemic has cancelled the Polar Bear Swim in Trail until 2022 at the earliest. Photo: Trail Times

Ray Tenisci will have bottle up his Jan. 1 first aid ‘liquids’ until 2022 because the pandemic has cancelled the Polar Bear Swim in Trail until 2022 at the earliest. Photo: Trail Times

COVID-19 kiboshes Silver City polar bear plunge

The 44 Engineer Squadron is hoping to be back on the beach Jan. 1, 2022

Locals will have to find another way to brrrr-ing in 2021 other than a dip in the Columbia River.

Yes, it’s true.

COVID-19 has cancelled the Polar Bear Swim, a touted cure-all for too many evening-before-libations that has taken place on Jan. 1 at Gyro Park beach in East Trail for more than 30 years.

“As 2020 draws to a close, most of you must be wondering if there will be be a polar bear swim to start of 2021,” began Shane Batch, Master Warrant Officer for the 44 Engineer Squadron / 39 Combat Engineer Regiment.

“Unfortunately the COVID 19 pandemic has forced our hand, and we regretfully have to cancel the swim. With the province’s social distancing policies in place until early January, we are unable to ensure a responsible and safe way to conduct the swim,” he said.

“Hopefully by next year (2022) we will be able to resume this event. Thank you all for your understanding, and have a safe and happy holiday season. See you in 2022!”

The first Polar Bear Swim in the Silver City, on record that is, was in 1988.

The popularity of taking a dip on Jan. 1 has grown over time with the organizers – the 44 Engineer Squadron – drawing hundreds of spectators and up to 200 on deck for the noon-sharp plunge.

The 44th Engineer Squadron has served in Trail since it was formed in 1947.

Over the decades, members of the squadron have put their skills to work on community projects, responded across B.C. during floods, fires, and other emergencies, and deployed on missions around the world, from Bosnia to Afghanistan.

The squadron has a satellite location in Cranbrook and is part of 39 Combat Engineer Regiment. Soldiers from the unit are trained as combat engineers and engineer officers. Engineers build everything the army needs and ensures that the units can get everywhere they need to go.

They are the army’s experts on road, bridge, and building construction, as well as fortification, boat operations, demolition, and explosives.

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