Cabrillo Beach has had a New Year's Day Swim as far back as can be remembered under the names of King Neptune, King Nautilus and many others. It was led by the members of the Department of Recreation and Parks and/or the Lifeguards. The King would come ashore in a boat and lead the crowd back into the water at 12 o'clock noon each New Year's Day.
In 1953, John Olguin and Jack Cheaney started the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears. John's wife, Muriel drew the original Polar Bear insignia which is still unchanged. The Polar Bears were an informal gathering of individuals that would meet in October and November and electing a King and Queen from the many daily beach enthusiasts at a beach party heald for that purpose.
In 1983, Ray Falk obtained permission for a room through the City Council Office, the Department of Recreation and Parks in the old Bathhouse/Museum in San Pedro. The Cabrillo Marine Museum abandoned the Bathhouse when they moved into their new facility on the inner beach. In 2005, Ray Falk and Kim M. White petitioned the City Council which declared the Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse as the official Home of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears.
Ray Falk organized the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears patterned somewhat after the Dolphin Club in San Francisco which was established in 1888. The Polar Bear Club has an administrative staff with a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary and Board of Directors. The King and Queen are elected each year to represent the Club at any Community function or service. They are featured in the San Pedro Christmas Parade on the Polar Bear float which won the Sweepstakes award for best float one year. They, of course, lead the New Year's Day crowd into the water each year.
Men and Women use the facilities daily starting at 6:00a.m. until dusk in the evening. The Polar Bears help in keeping the beach clean, painting out graffiti at the historic Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse and minor maintenance.
The Polar Bears are represented by Director Emeritus, Kim M. White, President Gary Buss, Vice-President, Steve Skale and Treasurer, Juliane Hoskins.
The First Dip or Swim of the Year is a Fun Day where the participants are led into the water. After a brief swim or dip (just getting wet), everyone gets an official certificate (suitable for framing.) There is coffee, Hot cocoa and cup cakes provided by the Lady Polar Bears.
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