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Annual Penguin Dip marks start of 2019

January 3, 2019
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Participants at the 2019 Penguin Dip take the plunge Tuesday morning at Clear Lake Beach Park in Clear Lake.

CLEAR LAKE — Five-year-old Molly Gadsden didn’t think it was such a big deal.

The Mount Vernon girl was one of the youngest to take part Tuesday morning in the 2019 Clear Lake Penguin Dip, as people rushed into the chilly water of the lake to kick off the new year.

Gadsden, who had several family members such as her mother and grandmother with her, said the water wasn’t too bad.

“It was warm,” she said. “I was the only one who thought it was warm.”

When someone jokingly asked if Gadsden may want to go swimming, she demurred.

The event is a Skagit County tradition that stretches back decades and draws participants from around the area.

Although the water was cold enough to shoo off most of those who took the plunge quickly, it’s not the coldest it’s been; one participant recalled one year portions of the lake’s surface had frozen.

Tuesday’s event drew about 50 people, most staying in the water for just a few seconds.

The brave participants included one woman in a penguin hat and a man dressed as Santa Claus.

“Nobody wants to stay in?” he asked, his sleeves sopping.

Members of the Sedro-Woolley girls’ wrestling team took their traditional 3-mile run to the event, which they’ve done for almost a decade, and most of them braved the water as well.

One participant said it was an invigorating morning.

“That was awesome,” said Jarrod Lee, a 44-year-old from Concrete. “I feel like a million bucks right now.”

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