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Polar Bears in A-Bay

Editor’s note:    These polar bears give “helping the community” a whole new meaning to the word courage.  Thanks to the work and effort made by “Johnny Truesdell” and the A-Bay Paparazzi for capturing this event for TI Life readers who could not be there!

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of River Hospital, this year's Polar Bear Dip in Alexandria Bay, NY had 220 jumpers and raised over $65,000... and money is still coming in.

Each year the money raised at the Polar Bear Dip goes towards something different. The main goal is always towards the betterment of the hospital in order to improve patient care. This year the money will be spent on portable ultrasound equipment.

The Polar Bear Dip event started 23 years ago. Shortly before that the Hospital was in chapter 11 and Samaritan Medical out of Watertown, NY took over. Samaritan wanted to keep the Hospital open provided the river community showed enough support. That is when the Friends of River Hospital was created.

They began raising money for the hospital by selling hot dogs and having car washes, but one day Ragtime Bob Darch (be sure to see his youtube video link below), Jeff Hebert, and whoever else, decided to have a Polar Bear Dip to raise money.

So, the 1st Alexandria Bay Polar Bear Dip began – first held at Alexandria Bay's Edgewood Resort. Many folks helped out with the events.. Ted Elk, Sue Boyer, Cathy Strough, Peggy Kernehan, and the list goes on..

My sources tell me the 1st dip raised $1500 or so!

Eventually though Edgewood Resort was is financial trouble and The Polar Bear Dip needed a new home.

That new home was provided by Don Cole of Bonnie Castle and more famously of Cole Muffler. Mr. Cole rolled out the red carpet and gave the event a new home at the Bonnie Castle's Rum Runner. For many years his “guys” took care of everything from cutting the ice, to making sure the hot tubs and ladders were ready – and much more. Mr. Cole did more for the event and the community than many will ever know.


Moving on to today. The Polar Bear Dip requires a $100.00 minimum donation to make the jump. As the years went by people got more serious about raising money for the event. Names such as "The Budman", Marcia Graves, and Smitty come to mind. These folks and others like them have various fundraisers and collect anywhere from $10.000 to $25,000 for the hospital.

The overall proceeds that the Dip raises just keeps going up. Over the last five years it's become an Internet Sensation. 1000 of photos end up online and I have the pleasure of creating a huge video production for everyone to enjoy.

People come from all over to participate in the Dip and also to “party it up” with good friends. The whole village fills up, all the bars have entertainment, and it's good fun for everyone.

Lastly, If I have gotten anything wrong or left anyone out of this story I apologize.. just leave a comment down below and fill us in with whatever you know.

2013 Alex Bay Polar Bear Dip - T.I. Life from Johnny Truesdell on Vimeo.

And be sure to see these links:


The site celebrating 17 years of service to the community, includes a sister site,, which began providing unique web shots in 2007. gets 5000-10,000 unique visitors, daily, depending on the content. In fact, there is no other site that provides as much rich content about the US Thousand Islands as this site.

In addition to keeping active,  “Johnny Truesdell” is also well known in the region for the tremendous support he gives to charitable activities.  In April 2012 he reviewed the eBook “One in a Thousand” for TI Life, Review by - The River Meets The iPad and in March 2011 we profiled Johnny Truesdell’s Abay.comjust-released

NOTE:  Johnny Truesdell has finished his Polar Bear 2013 video

  • Thanks to everyone for supporting this great effort!

    Thanks to everyone for supporting this great effort!


Posted in: Event, News Article
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Gerry Last
Comment by: Gerry Last ( )
Left at: 4:55 PM Monday, March 18, 2013
We heard about this from a neighbour who went to it...sounds awesome. The videos and pics are great. We'll be there next year...we live just across the water...
Johnny Truesdell
Comment by: Johnny Truesdell ( )
Left at: 10:20 PM Monday, March 18, 2013
I forgot to mention that before the Hospital changed it's name to "River Hospital" it was called "E.J. Noble" after Edward J Noble.

"Noble was part of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project and was appointed to the advisory board by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. He owned Boldt Castle, the Thousand Island Club, and a summer residence on Wellesley Island. The ornamental street lights in the village park are all that remain of the gift of new street lights that were given to the village by Edward and his brother, Robert. The lights were in memory of their father.

Edward Noble died peacefully in his sleep on December 28, 1958.[2]

Three hospitals and a foundation are named after him.
Noble was also the man behind Lifesavers candy..

For more on E.J. Noble.. go to this URL..