Polar Plunge devotees take a New Year’s Day dip in the Ocracoke surf. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Several first-timers were among about 45 kids and adults of all ages Tuesday afternoon for Ocracoke’s version of the Polar Plunge at the airport beach off Ramp 70.

As kids ran around the beach in their bathing suits and swimmers gathered for a group photo, air temperatures in the upper 60s and an ocean temperature of 58 to 60 degrees made for a successful New Year’s Day dip in the ocean.

Last year’s 20-degree weather scotched the event, but this year’s balmy weather was more palatable.  Easy, in fact.

“It’s so nice out,” said first-time plunger Laura McClain as she grabbed a towel. “It’s kind of like Memorial Day on Cape Cod when the water is about 58 degrees. This water’s no different.”

“It was perfect,” said another first-timer Kimberly Emery of Nags Head, formerly of Ocracoke. “I went under twice. It was awesome.”

As he dripped dry, another newbie, David Tweedie, said the air felt warmer than the water.

“It was like running into battle,” he said about the crowd dashing into the surf after Jason Wells, who did not take a dip, gave the 2 p.m. cue.

“It was way more fun than watching it,” said Crystal Canterbury, also a first-timer.

Bill Jones, one of the eldest to indulge, dipped for the first time.

“I don’t know why I did it,” he said as he dried off. “In 2018, I went into the ocean zero times, so I’m one ahead.”

Visitor Janice Brown from Birdsall, in western New York, visited Ocracoke especially for the oyster roast on Saturday and decided to join in the beach romp for her first plunge.

“This is lovely,” she said as she watched kids still cavorting in the surf and on the beach.  Her Ocracoke visit had “cleared the cobwebs out” and she enjoyed the Ocracoke community.

“It’s all this camaraderie,” she said, indicating the islanders drying off from their winter swim. “The (community) support… It just blew me away.”

New Year’s Day polar plunge swimmers run to the water at 2 p.m. Photo: C. Leinbach
Ocracoke School students run around the beach before the plunge. Photo: C. Leinbach
Pelicans fly by the New Year’s Day swimmers at the airport beach. Photo: C. Leinbach
The last few linger in the water on New Year’s Day on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach


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