Irene Jameson, 86, of Sea Isle City, was a Philadelphia School District teacher and publicist for 30 years, and handled public relations for Sea Isle City for almost 20 years, “but of all the things I’ve ever done, this is most fun,” she said of the city’s annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Jameson helped start the event in 1995. The goal of the plunge, in which brave souls take a February swim at the 42nd Street beach, is to spice up the city’s activities in the dead of winter. The first one attracted 25 plungers and 100 viewers in a single day, she said. Now, 2,500 people take the plunge, which is watched by about 30,000, and it has become a three-day party over Presidents Day weekend.

This year, Jameson is selling a self-published book, “Memoirs of a Polar Bear Queen,” full of photos from every plunge, to benefit autism research.

Jameson started the tradition of plunging in costume, dressing as a flapper and a beauty queen, among others. A costume contest is a big part of the weekend, along with the crowning of a king and queen, a 5K run and other events.

She only stopped heading into the ocean for the mid-winter swim three years ago.

“I recommend going in fast — go under, come out and never stand around in the sand without something on your feet. Once the feet go, the entire body goes,” she said. Jameson used to train for it by walking around barefoot in winter and taking cold rinses for at least a month and cold showers for the week leading up to the plunge, she said.

She will be in costume again this year — a white bikini and a coat, with a wig and crown — to sell and sign books for $20 under the family tent at JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue from Friday, Feb. 18, to Sunday, Feb. 20.

Cross out distractions

John and Cynthia Daunoras, of Winslow Township, Camden County, have both been in car accidents caused by distracted drivers. They say John lost his health and business after a 2004 accident, in which a driver hit him head-on while she was talking on a cell phone. Now, they want to reduce accidents by selling lawn crosses.

They are hoping people will install “Celltext Crosses” on their lawns to remind drivers not to text or make phone calls while driving. They are 27-inch white crosses marked “Cell Phone Driver” or “Texting Driver” and cost $24.99 each.


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More on the plunge

Copies of ‘Memoirs of a Polar Bear Queen’ are available by mailing

a check or money order for $25 (with shipping fee) to 1500 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243. Call 609-263-2968 for information about the book or 609-263-3756 for plunge information.

Buy a ‘Celltext Cross’

For more information or to buy a cross, visit:

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