January 1, 2018, at Bradford Beach.
I can’t believe she’s smiling.
Lee Matz, my friend and occasional work colleague at the Milwaukee Independent captured that photo and others. Trust me, this blog is in no way a criticism of Lee’s work. He always does an outstanding job.
Every year we take in the obligatory New Year’s Day story about those brave, hearty, insane souls who take the Polar Bear Plunge. January 1 is always about 70 degrees colder than Honolulu, but this year’s confrontation with Mother Nature was far more challenging.
The above photo taken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed a thermometer displaying a temperature of 2 above zero at the time of the lakefront lunacy. I’m thinking the faulty device was generous.
Milwaukee’s lakefront, beautiful most days, except November through May, was still crowded, despite warnings issued in the newspaper just before the New Year.
“You’re going to get hypothermic. Everybody wants to do the polar plunge once in their life; it’s a bucket list item. Unfortunately, it’s something that can cause a lot of harm.”
Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief 1 Erich Roden, a former Fire Department rescue diver, speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mike De Sisti with the Journal Sentinel, like Lee Matz, took lots of pictures. Here’s one of them.
As I mentioned, if you’re watching or reading the news past noon on January 1, you’ll see stories about the plunge. You laugh, you snicker, you shake your head, you cringe.
But does the above picture generate any visceral reaction?
That girl wasn’t the only kid in frigid water on the entire planet. That photo wasn’t the only one like it. Over the years there have been similar Polar Bear Plunge photos that include children.
It’s not just Milwaukee.
Whidbey Island, state of Washington…
Chesapeake Bay in Maryland…
So I raise the question. Do you see child abuse?
Think about it. Don’t dismiss the question so quickly.
You know what I see?
I see adults who temporarily, even for laughs and possibly for a worthwhile fundraising cause have lost their senses.
But I also see adults with children who somehow have ended up in the water that experts are on record saying is dangerously unhealthy.
Am I being too critical, exaggerating, over the top?
OK, maybe, especially when you consider the absolute criminal definition of child abuse. It’s still very wrong.
But I tell you what. Not that she would, but if my daughter, Kyla begged until she was blue in the face to dive into the lake, I wouldn’t let her do it. This is from a dad who for the last week has been constantly asking her in our house if she’s warm enough.
I have no trouble with adult imbeciles choosing to make asses of themselves. Go for it. Live it up. Get on the TV news, tattoos and all.
Just leave the kids bundled up on the shore.
Final note: Where are the enterprising Milwaukee news reporters on this one?
It’s so easy to cover the soft story of people splashing around in the lake. Where’s the follow up in the emergency rooms, etc.?