Today I did something I had never done before.

I went to Coney Island, the fabled beach on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Brooklyn, to watch the Polar Bears Club take their annual New Year’s Day plunge. The Polar Bears have been doing this since 1903.

The weather was pretty good. About 40 degrees, but a strong wind was occasionally gusting, making it seem colder. Thousands of people were there like me as spectators. At least a thousand people were there in bathing suits and zany costumes to take the plunge. There were Vikings, old and young women in bikinis, a group of four people dressed in French costumes like a Marcel Marceau troupe of mimes with painted faces.

I managed to get to the front of the line, so I could get a good view and take pictures. I posted many on Twitter.

It was a riotous, hilarious, joyous experience. People of every race, religion, ethnicity, dressed in funny costumes, having the time of their lives as they prepared to take a plunge into frigid waters. They were accompanied by cheering crowds, smiles, laughter, and a dozen or so drummers beaming out a thump, thump, thump on big steel drums, as waves of scantily clad bathers headed for the Atlantic.

It’s moments like this when I love America, love living in New York City, and feel that all of us are truly brothers and sisters.