January 2, 2015
Ocracoke plunges into the new year
By PETER VANKEVICH
The Ocracoke Observer
All things considered, it wasn’t that bad. “The water was warmer than I expected,” said Whisper Meacham.
was the general consensus of the brave souls who gathered on the beach
at the airport ramp and welcomed the New Year by diving into the
Atlantic Ocean. Joelle LeBlanc, who helped publicize this
relatively unorganized event, thought there were more than 35 plungers
and perhaps an equal number of friends, family and the curious watching
from the beach.
Justin LeBlanc, Joelle’s husband, found the
whole experience exhilarating. “This was the fourth year for this on
Ocracoke,” he said. “Last year, I think there were only six or
seven of us that did it. This year we put it on Facebook, and the local
newspapers publicized it and the turnout has been great.”
this is also known as a "polar bear plunge," and there are many
organized events in the U.S., Canada, the UK and the Netherlands,
especially on New Year’s Day. These events are often used as
fundraisers for charitable organizations. One of the largest is the
PlungeFest that will take place this year on Jan. 24 at Sandy Point
State Park, at the base of the western side of the Chesapeake Bay
Bridge in Maryland. Several thousand participants are expected to
take the plunge, raising money for the Special Olympics. Their
inspiration derives from the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, founded in
1903 and whose members take regular plunges throughout the winter.
Jarett Werley noted that St.
Andrew's University in Scotland has a tradition called the May Dip,
which is held annually at dawn on May Day when the students stay awake
until dawn, at which time they jump into the North Sea.
Eiland warmed up by jogging about two miles from his house across from
the lighthouse to the airport. “I’m ready to cool off,” he quipped.
This was the second time for Scott Bradley. Asked how he
prepared for it mentally and physically, he said he had a thimble and
half of wine. Melinda Sutton thought the latest in the year she had
swum on Ocracoke was October and was looking forward to it.
some, this was a family event. Kim and Roger Meacham and their two
children, Whisper and Django, all plunged, as did Megan Aldridge and
her son Parker.
Many watchers were equally content not to
participate and just enjoy the day. “I’m not a cold weather girl,” said
Molly Lovejoy, who last year transferred from Emerson College in Boston
to the University of New Orleans.
The water temperature was about 60 degrees.
was not as shocking as I expected. The water was actually quite
pleasant. But I won’t be doing it every day, though I will do it again
next year,” said Megan Aldridge.
“It’s a great way to start the New Year. I’m ready for it,” she added.
(For more Ocracoke news, go to www.ocracokeobserver.com.)