SEASIDE HEIGHTS — The Polar Bear Plunge in support of Special Olympics New Jersey is back Saturday after a pandemic-forced year off.

Thousands will run into the 40-degrees Atlantic Ocean at 1 p.m. to get "freezin' for a reason" to support the athletes of Special Olympics who compete in bowling, basketball and other events as well as the Summer Games, which are scheduled to return to The College of New Jersey in June.

"How appropriate, it's going to be cold! High temperatures on Saturday will barely reach about freezing, in the mid 30s. Any little breeze will push the wind chill into the 20s at Plunge time. There will be more clouds than sun overhead," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.

'An army of law enforcement'

Given this week's invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there will be heightened police presence for the plunge to make sure everyone is safe, according to Seaside Heights police Chief Tommy Boyd.

"We have an army of police from the FBI to the Attorney General's office down to State Police, Toms River police, the Ocean County Sheriff's Office,  Prosecutor's Office. We treat this as a high-value target. We'll have drones in the air, we have spotters everywhere, numerous undercover everywhere walking around," Boyd told New Jersey 101.5

It's also exciting for Seaside Heights that the Polar Bear Plunge is back, according to  Boyd.

"It's important for two things. It's the No. 1 fundraiser for Special Olympics in the United States. It's grown every year and we go out of our way to take care of these kids," Boyd told New Jersey 101.5.

"At the same time it gives people a chance to get the year going, the businesses rolling in Seaside. It's a huge uplift for Seaside Heights."

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
loading...

The Polar Bear Plunge doesn't start until Big Joe says it starts.

New Jersey 101.5's Big Joe Henry will be back in Seaside Heights for his 26th year as the voice of the plunge high above the beach at the Spicy Cantina on the boardwalk.

"The Polar Bear Plunge is one of my favorite events with thousands getting together for a great New Jersey charity, Special Olympics New Jersey. The growth of this event is nothing short of amazing. It’s a fun day and I’m proud to join our law enforcement community who step up to support the cause," New Jersey 101.5's Big Joe Henry said.

Preparing the beach for the Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights
Preparing the beach for the Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights (Borough of Seaside Heights)
loading...

Traffic and Parking

Boyd recommended getting to Seaside Heights early. Many will make a day of it starting with breakfast.

"We have people showing up at 6 and 7 in the morning," Boyd said. "The earlier the better to come to the plunge."

Traffic will start to build after 11 a.m. on Route 37 heading east from the Garden State Parkway to the Mathis Bridge, according to Boyd. Toms River police and the Ocean County Sheriff's Office will be directing traffic in Seaside Heights.

Boyd said there some other ways to get into Seaside Heights to avoid popular Route 37.

Garden State Parkway from north

  • Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 98 for Route 34 South.
  • Follow Route 34 South, which will become Route 35 South.
  • Continue on Route 35 South over the Manasquan River Bridge and proceed for several miles.
  • Route 35 South will become a two-lane roadway. Follow signs toward Seaside Heights.

Garden State Parkway from south

    • Take the Garden State Parkway north to exit 90 (Brick).
    • Turn right onto Chambersbridge Road.
    • Continue through seven traffic lights to the intersection of Mantoloking Road/County Route 528.
    • Turn left and follow Mantoloking Road to end.
    • Turn right onto Route 35 South and proceed for several miles.
    • Route 35 South will become a two-lane roadway. Follow signs toward Seaside Heights.

Interstate 195 from west

  • Head east on I-195 to Exit 35A for Route 34 South (Brielle).
  • Follow Route 34 South, which will become Route 35 South.
  • Continue on Route 35 South over the Manasquan River Bridge and proceed for several miles.
  • Route 35 South will become a two-lane roadway. Follow signs toward Seaside Heights.
Seaside Heights Polar Plunge
Toniann Antonelli / Townsquare Media
loading...

Where to park in Seaside Heights

Parking meters will not be operational on Saturday but all the parking lots will be open on Saturday, according to Boyd.

Traffic will be restricted on the following streets:

    • Grant Avenue will be closed from the Boulevard to the Boardwalk street end.
    • Ocean Terrace will be closed from Sherman to Sumner avenues.
    • Eastbound traffic on Sumner Avenue will be directed south on Ocean Terrace.
    • Northbound traffic on Ocean Terrace will be directed west at Webster Avenue.
    • Southbound traffic on Ocean Terrace will be directed west at Sherman Avenue.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

Best coffee shops & cafes near NJ beaches

When it comes to food, New Jersey is known for many things such as pizza and pork roll. Don't count us out when it comes to coffee.

With all the hustle and bustle involved in the average New Jersey resident's day, coffee is essential. It doesn't matter whether you're living in the cities of North Jersey or the vacation spots at the shore.

In fact, as the former owner of two Jersey shore coffee houses, Coffee Dot Comedy in Sea Isle City and the Daily Grind in Ocean Grove, I know firsthand how much people at the Jersey shore love their coffee.

With respect to that, I asked my social media following where the best coffee houses at the Jersey Shore were, especially since my two places no longer exist.

Below is what they came up with. (And see this other article for their coffee shop and cafe recommendations for Central Jersey.)

Where everyone knows your name: Friendliest bars in NJ

NJ Diners that are open 24/7