Hundreds dive head first into 2021 with a virtual Polar Bear Plunge

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Even though there was no organized plunge this year, hundreds of families came out to celebrate the new year with cold water and new memories.

New Year’s celebrations looked different this year as the world still grapples with the pandemic, but one familiar scene still played out Friday on Tybee Island, running into the frigid Atlantic Ocean.

Executive Director Melissa Turner of the Tybee Post Theater says the overwhelming enthusiasm from participants was shocking.

“We never anticipated the reception that we got,” said Turner. “I think we ordered about 400 t-shirts to start and then, like I’ve said, we’ve had to reorder three more times.”

The Tybee Post Theater decided to hold a virtual plunge this year, encouraging participants to share themselves plunging somewhere near them on social media.

They’ve gotten submissions from people as far as Sweden.

“He’s registered, he’s ordered his t-shirt. He sent us a picture of him doing a backflip into a lake in Sweden near his house,” she said.

Many participants still came to the Tybee Pier to kick off a New Year’s tradition with family.

Alanna Edwards, who grew up in the area but moved away, said she and her family came this year to make some new memories for their annual family tradition.

“I just felt like, when I came up out of the water, I didn’t think about the cold. I just thought about everything I wanted to leave behind,” said Edwards.

For some, the plunge offers a fresh start to focus on new adventures in the new year.

After running into the cold water, Nathan Ward proposed to his girlfriend Kimberly saying the timing was right for doing it.

“She comes every year with us, never done it,” said Ward. “And the first year that she does do it, I figured would be the best time to let her know we’re going to spend the rest of our life together.”

Edwards says the plunge provided a sense of normalcy that she and many others desperately need to feel now.

“I just feel like, this is probably when everybody should stick together the most because that’s when we need it, right now the most.,” said Edwards. “We need family more than ever.”

You can still pick up your 2020 Polar Bear plunge shirt at the Tybee Post Theater starting on Monday if you haven’t done so already.

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