PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It takes a special kind of person, and sometimes, a special kind of outfit, to take the plunge into the frigid Monongahela River.

Wednesday morning, dozens of people braved the temperatures in the 30s, both in the air and in the river, to start the new year doing something they’ve never done before – participate in the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“It’s going to be cold, just a little bit, for like a second,” said Brett Paradise, who was dressed as a wrestler. “As every Pittsburgher knows, once you get in the water, once you jump in, everything’s going to be fine n’at.”

“I’m shivering at the thought of jumping in,” said Elijah Porbin, of Avella.

A man dressed as Evil Knievel, who wanted to ride a bike across the river, didn’t make the huge jump.

The Pittsburgh tradition is something many people look forward to.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Steve Willing)

This was Frank Nelson’s 55th New Year’s Day plunge into the Mon River.

Vera Nyfeler lives in Upper Saint Clair, but is originally from Switzerland. This was her first plunge. She told KDKA’s Lisa Washington that there is a similar tradition in Switzerland on New Year’s Eve.

“Yes, but it’s on New Year’s Eve,” Nyfeler said. “You wear the whole body suits and swim a certain distance in the river.”

Most of those who jumped in the river admitted there’s no real reason to explain why they take the plunge.

Nate Sturges of Fombell, is hopeful it will increase his confidence in the new year.

“It’ll get you to the point where you might be disciplined to take on new challenges in the new year,” Sturges said.

Lisa Washington