TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — On a sunny but windy New Year’s Day, brave souls took the plunge into the 60-degree waters of Tybee Beach.

“If you haven’t done it, do it, you only live once,” said Chuck from Hinesville.

“It’s been colder, it wasn’t too bad,” said Dana Batchelor from Eatonton.

For Dana and her husband, David, it’s a tradition dating 10 years back to their honeymoon.

But it’s the second year organizers are scaling back the event, encouraging people to take the plunge from anywhere — their backyard, bathtub or the beach.

“We feel comfortable and we feel solid in that decision, especially with the new variant,” said Evan Goetz, executive director of the Tybee Post Theater. “But I keep telling people to keep holding out. Next year, knock on wood, we hope to be back and better than ever.”

The theater hopes to make it a bigger event next year with bands and food trucks. Goetz didn’t know exactly how many people planned on participating on Saturday but said up to 500 purchased t-shirts.

Like the Batchelor’s, the annual event holds a special meaning for many beachgoers.

“My son committed suicide three years ago and I found a letter,” said Nancy Floyd from Effingham County. “He wrote to Santa Claus that he always wanted to do the polar plunge so we decided to do it in memory of him and now we just do it every year.”

For some, the chilly water serves as a fresh start.

“This is what it’s all about is coming down here, starting a new year together, friendship, family,” said Angie Mingledorff from Effingham County. “We just come down here, jump in the water, it just makes us feel good, it’s a whole brand new year.”

Organizers said all of the money raised will go directly to programming and operation costs at the theater. Goetz said events like this one are crucial — especially after shutting their doors for a while due to the pandemic.

“That year, year-and-a-half or so of being dark hurts a non-profit organization,” he said. “I mean, many organizations around are feeling this effect so things like this that directly support again the programming and the organizational aspects of the organization really, literally, keep our lights on.”

If you took part in Saturday’s plunge, you have until Jan. 5th to submit photos and videos for your chance to win contests, including best inflatable plunge and the “Gang of Goofs” costume contest.

Goetz said you can also still purchase a Polar Plunge t-shirt to help support the theater.

You can do both by clicking here.