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Hundreds take plunge into 2014 on Flathead Lake

Published On: Jan 01 2014 05:45:44 PM MST   Updated On: Jan 01 2014 08:24:14 PM MST

Hundreds gathered to enter the frigid 36-degree water Wednesday afternoon for the 20th annual Polar Bear Plunge on Flathead Lake in Woods Bay.

People from all over gathered wearing wet suits, costumes, and some even braved the cold in just a bathing suit.

It's been an annual tradition in Woods Bay for the last 20 years.

Second-time plunger Rick Ward described the experience for us as he prepared to take the plunge.

"You don't know who's around you, when you get out you don't see anybody else, you're just trying to get the heck out because it's so damn cold," said Ward.  "Everybody getting together and having a good time and just bringing in the New Year and stuff like that, it's just a lot of fun."

Rebecca Schmitz has taken the plunge the last two years.  She described the experience as “numbing.”  "It happens so fast, you're in, you're out, it's shocking,” said Schmitz.

"It's a fun way to start the year and sort of set the right tone and I just can't explain it,” said Schmitz.  “It's just strange and fun."