The History of the Jumpoff
The first Seward Polar Bear Jump was held in 1986. Individuals dressed in costumes jumped into Resurrection Bay. Sponsors were acquired by the jumpers in order to raise money for the Alaska Division of the American Cancer Society. The event was so popular that buses were provided for a Anchorage-Seward-Anchorage trip on the day of the jump, with advance tickets selling out. Today, crowds continue to flock to Seward on the third Friday of January for a full weekend of fun.
Winter Family Fun
Many of the activities of the Festival benefit local non-profit groups as well as helping Children with Cancer. Festivities begin on Friday night with the opening auction and run through Sunday.
Want To Take The Plunge?
The Polar Bear Festival Association opens up registration for the plunge in late summer. All available spots are filled within a few short weeks. Jumpers collect pledges in return, helping the Festival Association raise money for the American Cancer Society and Kenai Peninsula Children with Cancer.
For general event information, contact the Association directly:
Seward Polar Bear Festival Association
P.O. Box 386 Seward, Alaska 99664
The Plunge has had worldwide attention, including national television and radio coverage, been included in numerous newspaper and magazine articles, including Country America Magazine, Winter Living, Chase’s Calendar of Events, USA Today, Unlimited, Modern Maturity – AARP, Seward Phoenix Log, Anchorage Daily News, Peninsula Clarion, Bell’s Travel Guide, and Alaska Magazine.
In 1991 a writer for “Outside” magazine came from Florida to take the Plunge and do a story on the Festival. The Festival has also been featured “live” on radio stations KBRT in Orange County California, KFSK in Hawaii, KZLA/KLAC in Burbank and ABC radio affiliate from Dallas, Texas and Sidney, Australia.
Paul Gray of Exploring Alaska produced a video of the Festival, which has run several times on Alaska’s Superstation. A Korean television company included it in one of their programs. An article on the Polar Bear Festival appeared in the February 2001 issue of the Reader’s Digest and in the Canadian issue.
Televised segments of the Festival have appeared nationally on Paramount Studio series HARDCOPY, the New York Travel Channel, Los Angles Weekender, KGW TV-Portland and KING TV -Seattle – Evening Magazine show. Alaska’s own KTVA-Channel 11 has been involved in the event for a number of years, with KTVA personnel taking part in the plunge into Resurrection Bay. Other in-state coverage includes KTUU-Channel 2 and Alaska Superstation Channel 13. Newer items and updated video can be found on YouTube.