By Phaedra Laird
Thousands across South Jersey decided to start 2010 off with a splash and a rather chill one! It's a tradition here at the shore embraced by many, that is, providing there's a nice warm towel waiting for them at the end.
It was a mad dash to start the new year with a splash and hundreds upon hundreds of brave souls did just that in Ocean City today. "I can't feel anything, so cold," said Michael Quinn, coming out of the water. His brother Andrew chimed in, "what are you talking about? It's like summer over here!"
While it's the first polar bear plunge for the brothers, they say it certainly will not be their last. "It's exhilarating to wait, charge in and get your entire body numb," said Andrew.
And not too far north, thousands armed with towels and daring spirits arrived in Brigantine also looking for a bold start to 2010. "We definitely are a little bit crazy," said one guy dressed as a lobster, "who's not crazy today, that's what I wanna ask. Who's not?"
"We'll be looking for some boiling water after this is over," said one of his crustacean friends. And, it was over, almost as soon as it started.
"Oh it's great," said one man running out of the water, "my head's gonna explode, but it was great!" Doctors on the scene, who also took a dip say the quick swim was a success. "I think everyone's still standing, so, I think everyone made it out alright," said Dr. Sean Daley, an anesthesiologist from Brigantine.
While the plunges have become a fun tradition for lots of people, many of them also serve as fundraisers, like in Brigantine, where for the past five years they've been raising money for the Fisher House, which serves wounded veterans' families in their time of need. "Fisher House is kinda like a Ronald McDonald House, but at military hospitals and VA medical centers," explained Derek Donovan, V.P. of Operations there, "it's a place for families to stay to be close to their loved ones when they've been wounded, when they're rehabbing, and it's at no charge to the families."
Just this year alone, sponsors of the plunge donated $25,000 and more money was raised today by people who took the dip just for the cause. "It's a great cause," said PJ diPalma, who traveled all the way from Bucks County, PA, "they're a great group of people that need support."
"It's just a great way to honor the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform by sacrificing a little bit of ourselves in the new year," said Donovan.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski