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2024 Seward Polar Bear Jump Off

2024 Seward Polar Bear Jump Off Festival
Seward Polar Bear Jump-off Festival, Inc
2024 Seward Polar Bear Jump Off Festival

In 1986, Seward residents established a unique tradition—donning costumes and submerging into Resurrection Bay to raise funds for cancer research. This local initiative evolved into the "Seward Polar Bear Jump-off Festival, Incorporated.," a nonprofit established in 1990. These funds go towards the Kenai Peninsula Children with Cancer Grant Program and the American Cancer Society.

“The American Cancer Society takes part of the proceeds that we raise through the jump. Part of that money gets donated back to the SPVJ group, which runs a grant program, where the funds go to support Kenai Peninsula-based children and their families, children who have been diagnosed with cancer on the Kenai Peninsula.”

That was Annette Vrolyk, the Senior Development Manager for the American Cancer Society North Region. She says the festival faced a setback in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, generating less than half of the previous year's proceeds. However, 2022 witnessed a remarkable rebound.

“Then in 2022, we had a record-breaking year where we raised over $285,000. So we're back to well beyond what we were before the pandemic. So I'm thankful that there was only a small blip in the fundraising. And we're back; we're back in, stronger than ever,” she said.

This year's festival begins this Friday, January 12, promising a weekend of fun festivities alongside the jump and costume contest. Prospective jumpers must be 18 or older and raise a minimum of $750.

Vrolyk says that several safety measures are in place for the jump on Saturday.

“We do have the city of Seward; help us out with providing law enforcement for safety during our parade. And then the Seward Harbor Master's office is there on standby at the small boat harbor on the dock, ready to help assist people out of the water and help provide any kind of emergency care needed.” She said.

Volunteers from the Anchorage-based Dive Alaska will be in the water to help if the need arises.

Jumpers will need a "dock buddy" to assist them. Teams can have up to two dock buddies, while individual jumpers can have one.

“They're briefed prior to taking on this responsibility that they need to watch out for signs of shock, hypothermia, and things like that. And they are aware of where the medical assistance people are in the area in case something else needs to happen.” Vrolyk said.

The festival draws participants and spectators from across the state. Local businesses are offering promotions during the event, including discounted rides between Anchorage and Seward.

Those unable to make the event personally can virtually attend the jump on the festival's Facebook page at Alaska Polar Bear Jump.

To register as a participant, visit

Local News Seward
Simon Lopez is a long time listener of KBBI Homer. He values Kachemak Bay’s beauty and its overall health. Simon is community oriented and enjoys being involved in building and maintaining an informed and proactive community.
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