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Francesca Magnani


Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

On January 1st there is only one place to be in New York, and that is at the beach in Coney Island, for a collective dive in the ocean. The Plunge, organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, was first held in 1903 and was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, returning at a smaller scale last year. The splash is free to participate in and it serves as a fundraiser for community non-profits. Proceeds from Sunday’s event will benefit the New York Aquarium and the Alliance for Coney Island, which produces more than 30 free events for the public each year. In the days preceding the chilly gathering, participants had raised about $15,000. Last Sunday marked the 120th anniversary of the traditional swim: expected attendance was in the thousands and among the highest in years, due to the mild unusual temperature.

The brightness of the light of that afternoon on the water, unique in a ten day streak of gray and drizzle, is still imprinted in my eyes.

Francesca Magnani


Francesca Magnani is a Brooklyn based Italian photographer, writer, teacher and translator. Born and raised in Padua, she graduated in Bologna and arrived at CUNY as a Fulbright graduate student in 1997. Since then she has been telling in words and images the stories that move her while she chronicles at the same time her own life.

She documented life during the pandemic in New York and still takes, daily, her favorite walk.

Follow her on and @magnanina.

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