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Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club

For more information contact:
Frank Nelson, President 724-863-0866

River plunge takes place at 9:30a.m.
on New Year's Day - January 1st

Directions to Mon Wharf


Polar Bear

Polar Bear Club
New Year's Day 2008

What was your New Year's resolution? go jump in a river?

Let's say the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh on January 1st.
Will it be cold?  You betcha!

The Polar Bear Club
The Polar Bear Club supports Project Bundle-Up

Approximately 200 river-jumpers appeared on the Mon Wharf for the annual Polar Bear Club ritual. A few changed their minds. An audience of several hundred was content just to watch.
What was the actual water temperature?
39F according to Pittsburgh River Rescue personnel.
The air temperature was a balmy 37F with 20mph winds gusting to 32mph, creating a wind chill of 20F (-7 Celsius).  Snow flurries held off until the event was over.
The photos below provide you a firsthand look at the 2008 event. And by the way, if you decide to join the Polar Bear Club for their annual river dip some day, bring your own towel....


  The Mon Wharf in Pittsburgh, Pa

Polar Bear Club aerial map
Looking up the Mon River Looking up "the Mon" (Monongahela River) at the Smithfield St. Bridge
Looking down the wharf toward the Ft. Pitt Bridge The Mon Wharf
Polar Bear Club participant with towel and robe Robes and towels identify the participants
Polar Bear Club T-shirts sold to support a local charity Polar Bear Club t-shirt supports Project Bundle-Up


Air temperature 37F
Wind chill 20F
Water temperature 39F


Polar Bear Club togetherness Happy New Year!
Pittsburgh River Rescue on standby near the wharf City of Pittsburgh River Rescue
Video of 2013 Polar Bear Plunge
Spectators and swimmers on January 1, 2008 The crowd of spectators and polar bears builds as jump time approaches
Liquid refreshment continues to bolster some Final preparation for the 39-degree water


  At The River's Edge

the river's ege 39F water awaits swimmers for their 9:30am plunge
Pittsburgh River Rescue EMT keeps a close watch Pittsburgh River Rescue EMT
Whoopin' it up right before jumping in the river! Yee Haw!

Whoopin-it-up right before jumping in

A bare purply arm paints the weather picture for you! Goosebumps show the wind chill
Polar Bear


The first Polar Bear event in Pittsburgh 1928
Gus Brickner of Charleroi
"The Human Polar Bear"
Holds 2 Guinness Records: Ice Water Swim Champion with 6 min, 22 sec swim in -18F water, and World's Distance Swimming Champion with 38,500 miles
Frank Nelson, President Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club
Phone: 724-863-0866
Frank's first river plunge was in 1966


January 1st jump into the Mon River The first ones into the river...
..soon became the first ones out! Getting out of the 39-degree water almost as fast as they went in
THAT was COLD! Man, oh Man, that's COLD!
Yoi and double Yoi Whoopee!


  Polar Bears keep jumping in

Polar Bears diving into the river Belly smacker!
This couple makes the water look warm! They make the water look warm with those smiles!
Pittsburgh news crews cover the annual Polar Bear Club story Pittsburgh news crews cover the annual Polar Bear event


The Monongahela River begins in Fairmont, West Virginia and flows north for 127 miles. 'The Mon' joins with the Allegheny River at 'The Point' in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. A series of locks and dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keeps the river at a 9-foot minimum depth to aid river barge traffic.


Two late jumpers brightened the gray winter scene Two late jumpers add color to the gray winter scene
Whoops! Left her bikini bottom in the river... Whoops!
The cold plunge ripped one bikini bottom off in the river
Lending a helping hand Lending a helping hand to fellow Polar Bears
2008 Polar Bears Unite For Project Bundle Up 2008 Polar Bears for Project Bundle Up

  You can't get there from here...

The Mon Wharf is a riverside parking lot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania located along the Monongahela River. The parking wharf is closed when the river rises above flood stage.
Getting there can be a bit tricky...
The official address for the Mon Wharf Parking Lot is 1 Ft Pitt Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, but some internet map locators show that address farther downriver toward "the Point" (the triangular-shaped confluence where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio River). Point State Park is located at "The Point" and is known for its large fountain seen in the photo below (the fountain is not in operation during winter months).

Fountain at 'The Point' in Pittsburgh
Fountain at "The Point" in Point State Park

As you can see in some of the event photos at the top of this webpage, the Pittsburgh Polar Bear event takes place midway between the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Smithfield Street Bridge, on the Pittsburgh city side of the Monongahela River. The Mon Wharf is directly across the river from Station Square which is seen in the photo below.
Driving to the Mon Wharf: The ramp down to the Mon Wharf is located at the intersection of Fort Pitt Boulevard and Wood Street. Watch for the Parking signs. When approaching Fort Pitt Blvd on Wood Street you will see the entrance to the Mon Wharf, as seen in the photo below. You have to drive English-style while travelling on the Mon Wharf ramp (left lane going down and right lane coming back up).

Mon Wharf parking lot entrance
Entrance to the Mon Wharf at the end of Wood Street. Across the river you see Mt Washington, Station Square and the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.

Google Map w/street view



Photos of the 2012 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta

2009 Pittsburgh Polar Bears

Polar Bear plunge 2012


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