Patrick Robinson
The annual New Years Day Polar Bear Plunge at Alki Beach was bigger than ever for 2014. Organized by Mark Ufkes, seen here giving his wife Lois a big hug and kiss, was surprised at the turnout.

SLIDESHOW: Polar Bear Plunge at Alki was the biggest yet

The annual New Years Day Polar Bear plunge at Alki was larger than expected, possibly by everyone there.

Organizer Mark Ufkes said, “At 9:25 there was practically nobody here but then they just showed up!”

Show up they did to swell the throng to an estimated 500 or more ready to dash into (and out of) the chilly waters of Puget Sound. After a brief 15 second countdown, it was time to dash as many people held hands and ran the 30 steps or so into the 46 degree water. After some splashing, shouting, and getting very cold, the majority rushed back out.

Most people had a crew of helpers with towels and other warming aids and of course Duke’s Chowder House, directly across from the plunge site was providing free cups of their famous hot clam chowder for everyone.

Owner Duke Moscrip was there helping and said, “I’d do it, I’d go in the water…but I have to be here serving chowder! Maybe next year!”