CHICO, Calif. -

Hundreds of people got the new year off to a chilly start in Chico's Bidwell Park.

An estimated 600 people swam across Sycamore Pool in the annual Polar Bear Plunge.  Hundreds more gathered to watch the spectacule.

Organizers told the crowd the water temperature was 40 degrees.  The air temperature was 43 degrees at the 1 p.m. start time.

When asked why they do it, many people said they wanted to get 2013 off to a jump start.

Entrepreneurs sold t-shirts which read "I Survived the Polar Bear Swim."