Under sunny skies on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023 at high noon, dozens of fun-loving revelers gathered to celebrate the New Year at Burien’s annual Polar Bear Plunge at Three Tree Point.

After the usual 10-second countdown, around 40 of B-Town’s craziest neighbors ran into the chilly waters of Puget Sound to either cleanse themselves of 2022, celebrate 2023…or…something else. Another 50 or so watched the fun but stayed dry.

The reasons for plunging didn’t really matter though, as on this occasion a very special longtime plunger and previous champion – 88-year-old Chris Gonvers – participated.

Gonvers is a noted violinist who studied music at the UW, played with the Seattle Symphony, is also an accomplished Artist and award-winning Photographer and much more, and has lived more great moments than pretty much anyone else who was in attendance. What an inspiration to have him there!

Several Good Samaritans helped him out by clearing a path, them lending their arms to walk him into the water. At one point he fell (or did he mean to plunge?), got drenched and laughed it off as he was aided back to shore – watch Scott Schaefer’s video below (running time 3-minutes, 11-seconds):

If Gonvers seems familiar, he should – since he won the Polar Bear Plunge trophy way back in 2009, when the then 74-year-old splashed in with his grandchildren; see him in the 2009 video below:

Winners of the 2023 Polar Bear Plunge Trophy were Debra George of Discover Burien and Alex Andrade of Citlali Creativo, who not only got the coveted trophy, but a roll of $20s inserted into the polar bear’s mouth.

Alex Andrade of Citlali Creativo (as Tigger) and Debra George of Discover Burien (as Winnie the Pooh) won the coveted Three Tree Point Polar Bear Plunge trophy. Photo courtesy Jana Kleitsch.
Only the winners know how many $20 bills were stuffed into the polar bear’s mouth…

We believe this is a great sign for 2023 – let’s keep making this the year of helping local notables like Chris Gonvers do fun things! What an inspiration!


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