Hmong New Year, polar bear dippers get a warm day

The Fresno BeeJanuary 1, 2014 

The unseasonably warm weather Wednesday greeted thousands who attended the last day of the Hmong International New Year at the Fresno Fairgrounds and braved the chilly waters in a South Valley river.

The National Weather Service in Hanford reported Fresno's high temperature Wednesday at 65 degrees, plenty warm for women to wear their traditional Hmong skirts.

The normal temperature for this time of year is in the mid-50s, but continued high pressure is keeping temperatures high in the Valley and conditions dry.

Meteorologist Paul Jones said rain is nowhere in the foreseeable future.

At the fairgrounds, traditional Hmong clothing was not only seen; earrings, necklaces and other silver jewelry also were heard jingling as 28,000 people milled about.

One of the flashier outfits belonged to Teng Thao, 23, this year's Miss Hmong International.

Young girls and older women alike approached Thao to take a photo with her.

Hmong celebrating the new year weren't the only ones soaking up the warm weather.

A group of 107 people plunged into the 42-degree water of Kaweah River to continue a 12-year annual tradition at the Gateway Restaurant and Lounge in Three Rivers.

"We did have a coroner's van," quipped restaurant owner Glenn McIntyre. "It came empty and it left empty."

The brave polar bear dippers would have preferred a cooler air temperature, McIntyre said, so that there wasn't an almost 30-degree difference with the river water that "was as cold as ever."


The reporters can be reached at (559) 441-6330, or

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