Taking the Plunge: A New Year's Tradition

Daring Dip: 55 degree water wasn't cold enough to keep these swimmers on shore.
Daring Dip: 55 degree water wasn't cold enough to keep these swimmers on shore.

More than 200 daring souls took a dip in the Atlantic Ocean on New Year's Day. It is an annual tradition on Tybee Island. While the weather outside was warm, the water was a chilly 55 degrees. Still, that couldn't stop swimmers from taking the plunge.

The fourth annual Tybee Island Polar Bear Plunge gives people a chance to show off their silly side. Many turned a leisurely trip to the beach into a spectacle at high noon.

"Howdy!" exclaimed a masked man on a stick horse. "I'm not the Lone Ranger. I'm the Philadelphia Mummer." He galloped off into the waves, followed by two women... in wedding dresses.

"The idea was those of us who got divorced this year were going to wear our wedding dresses out and do something with them," explained Lisa Scarbrough. She and her friend, Kelly Brooks, even threw their bouquets onto the beach.

"You caught the bouquet," Brooks excitedly told one spectator, who decided to remain on land.

"Yeah," he said, "I'm going to get married again!"

The water temperature was perfect for inducing goose bumps and plenty of reason to stay on shore; however, one young swimmer summed up a very good reason to brave the waves, anyway.

"If you want to have fun," explained Campbell Jones, "you've got to freeze to death sometimes."

The chilly churning water couldn't keep some of the Polar Bears, like wrestler "Macho Man", who was decked out in swimming trunks and his bright green wrestling mask for the occasion, from going back for seconds. Others, like the man who caught Brooks' bouquet, were more than content to watch from the sand.

"My wife's going in, but I'm chicken," he said. "Call me chicky chick."

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com