Polar Bear Day enjoys biggest turnout in years


David Guthery, photographer and birthday boy, was among those who skied barefoot during Polar Bear Day. "What a way to spend my 52nd birthday!" he says.

Al Van Beenen does a barefoot run on Polar Bear Day.

John Whitlow does a barefoot run on Polar Bear Day.

Youngest skier, 5-year-old twin Zackary Zander

Youngest skier, 5-year-old twin Zane Zander

Allison Zander, 8, skied for the first time on Polar Bear Day.

Allison, Bill, Zane and Zackary Zander try to get warm after braving the chilly water at Polar Bear Day.

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The Canyon Lake Ski Club reports one of the largest turnouts in many years for last Saturday's Polar Bear Day at Sunset Beach, thanks to unseasonably warm weather and glassy water conditions. Ski Club President Scott Larson also credits Bruce and Norma Yarbrough's "World Famous Chili and Cheese Burgers."

A total of 35 skiers participated in the event, including 11 skiers under 21. The youngest were 5-year-old twins Zane and Zachary Zander, joined by their 8-year-old sister Allison. Family members and other supporters were on hand to provide encouragement to all the Polar Bears.

"Whether it was skis, wake-boards, skim-boards, Sky Skis or bare feet, we saw it all," says Scott. "What was more impressive was the fact that we had 15 first timers, including myself!Yes, even I purchased the starter package this year!" Barefooters included Jeff Fitzpatrick, Dave Guthery, Alex Kahn, Dale Smith, Al Van Beenen and John Whitlow.

For braving the cold, each skier received a Polar Bear patch to commemorate the ride; an optional long-sleeved T-shirt was available for purchase. 

Scott expresses his appreciation to Bruce and Norma for heading up the event and cooking food throughout the day. Appreciation also goes to Jay Fitzpatrick and Scott Mize for providing their boats, and to John and Kim Whitlow for manning the Ski Club booth.

"Our club is off to a great start this year, with over 100 attending Breakfast with Santa and now a huge turnout for Polar Bear Day," says Scott. "Thanks to all the volunteers who are stepping up to make these events such a success!"