LA CONNER — The “First on First” committee is dedicated to promoting La Conner’s businesses, with longer hours and special events held on the first Friday of every month.

But with most businesses closed for New Year’s Day on the first Friday of this month, committee members found a more creative — albeit much, much colder — way to mark the day.

Four people plunged into the cold water at Pearl Jensen Beach, a small, sandy area near the marina, to mark the first Friday and the arrival of a new year. A few observers, plus a few dogs, kept warmer on the shore and watched. There was applause when the four — John Leaver, Rick Dole, Annie Taylor and Kelly Payne — waded into the water, and more when one went back to take a selfie.

While the plunge wasn’t an official event as part of the committee’s efforts, Dole said he hoped it helped keep the project’s momentum going.

“It’s just a boost to La Conner,” he said.

In the previous month, the committee and volunteers helped set up 400 luminaries along the town’s First Street.

“This is something a little different,” Dole said moments after emerging from the water Friday morning.

He said the water was “very cold,” noting he’d done cold-water survival training in the Navy.

“It’s a mindset,” he said.

Leaver, who is also a member of the La Conner Town Council, said shortly after his own plunge it was time for a hot shower.

“In hindsight, it’s not that bad,” he said. “And I’m glad we had a little crowd out.”

Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156,, Twitter: @goskagit,

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