By Vickie VanDoren

Can you think of a better way to ring in the New Year than to take a refreshing dip in the ocean? Well, that is exactly what we did this year. On January 1, 2012, we took the plunge and began what we hope will be a tradition to be carried many years into the future: the Annual New Year’s Day Ship Bottom Polar Plunge!

The idea behind our new glacial rite took flight after I casually remarked to my husband, Fred, on New Year’s Eve, “Hey, it’s almost warm enough to go swimming in the ocean.” The suggestion really was not a serious one, as Fred is not one to go into the ocean much, even during summer. It never occurred to me that he would consider my remark a challenge. Later that day, though, as we were sitting around chatting with friends on that rather balmy New Year’s Eve, my earlier remark came up in conversation. After a series of surprising expressions of support and interest, lo and behold, the group, including my husband unanimously decided that we would start a tradition of plunging into the Atlantic on New Year’s Day. As we began to fine-tune the details of our dip, one of our friends, Cheryl Kirby, even suggested we dress up for the event. The group immediately warmed to the idea and began digging through costumes and old clothes in hopes of finding the perfect sartorial compliment for the alter ego they would be adopting for the following day’s festive, but frigid, plunge. In no time, we had gotten the particulars of our gelid gambol down cold.

In the few hours that remained before we broke the ice on our inaugural dive, we invited everyone we came in contact with on LBI to join us at the 4th Street beach in Ship Bottom at noon to either participate in or witness the First Annual New Year’s Day Ship Bottom Polar Plunge.

On New Year’s Day the weather cooperated fully, with air temperatures in the low 50s and the water temperature only slightly cooler. Several friends and neighbors showed up and to our surprise as everyone was assembling, we picked up a last-minute convert. A young man who had walked over the dunes to see what was happening decided to join the madness, stripped down to his boxers, dashed toward the water and took the plunge with us.

Our Polar Plunge was an exhilarating and refreshing way to start 2012, and we cannot wait to do it again! It is a terrific way to start the year off with a feeling of empowerment, not to mention a great way to beat a hangover. So, mark your calendars. Next year’s event will take place January 1st at noon on Ship Bottom’s 4th Street beach. Come in costume and help us keep the new tradition going. —

Update: Like so many other New Year’s resolutions, despite our best intentions, sworn oaths, personal promises, and pinkie swears, this one too slipped away — never to be repeated. However, we are still game if you are. Contact thingsadrift @gmail.com to join us for the Second Annual New Year’s Day Ship Bottom Polar Plunge for 2024.

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