AURORA — Snow or shine, for the past 15 years, Adam Rossbach has celebrated every New Year's Day the same way: First, he shimmies down to his swim trunks on the icy shore of Cayuga Lake. Then, with the help of a rescue diver, he jumps in.
Jan. 1, 2018 was no different.
Despite the 10-degree day and a wind chill of -2, Rossbach was one of four people to brave the frigid temps Monday morning by participating in the annual Polar Plunge in Aurora.
At around 11 a.m., the 37-year-old Scipio native waded through the slush and ice until he was waist deep in the water. Then, holding his Buffalo Bills' baseball cap high above his head, he plunged below.
The water was 38 degrees.
Still, Rossbach smiled as he emerged from the lake, his hat back on his head.
"Let's go Buffalo!" he chanted. "If the Buffalo Bills can make the playoffs, I can make the plunge!"
The annual Polar Plunge began in 1991 when a loosely organized group called the Aurora Polar Bears made the first leap into the lake. Since then, it's become a New Year's Day tradition for families living in the village, as people gather outside St. Patrick's Church on Main Street to watch those brave enough to "bear" it.
Carolyn Connors said her son began participating in 1995. At the time, he was the youngest swimmer to take part in the plunge at 13 years old.
Now, Connors said, she comes down to the dock every year — but for the most part, she stays on the sidelines.
"I did it in 2011 because I decided I had to do it at least one year and it was kind of warm — but that was my one and only time," she said, laughing. "But it's really a lot of fun."
For Rossbach, he said the plunge has always been a fun and crazy way for him and his family to start the new year. But this year, he went in the water on his own while some friends and relatives huddled for warmth on shore.
"My brothers and I have been doing it for about 15 years, but they bailed on me this year," he said, rolling his eyes. "But everybody's got to start their new year off somehow. This might as well be mine."