For more than 100 years, brave (or possibly very foolish) souls have been jumping into freezing water across the U.S. to ring in the first day of the year.
While the tradition started in Boston, it has grown to include more pleasant climates for a winter swim.
On the first day of the year, Navarre Beach residents and visitors will gather for a long standing tradition. Toes in the cold sand, some dressed in costume, we will gather at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico or inches from Santa Rosa Sound.
Then as one big group we will all scurry, dive and dash into the often frigid water as part of a long standing tradition: New Year’s plunging.
It is one of my favorite new holiday traditions. While I will admit I felt a little insane doing my first plunge last year, it was really pretty fun. So fun I am now dragging the family out for it every year.
And the best part is it’s all for charity.
Should you decide yourself to be brave enough for the chill, you have two options.
The Penguin Plunge will ring in the New Year for the ninth year in a row at Juana’s Pagodas. Participants will be splashing into Santa Rosa Sound at 1:30 p.m.
The plunge will be preceded by a Paddle Board Adventure course at 12:30 p.m. The University of West Florida ROTC has contributed some new challenges for the course this year (neat!). Raffle prizes will be drawn at 2 p.m., and live music will start at noon and go until 4 p.m. with food and drinks for participants (yum!).
Proceeds from the registration and event raffle will benefit Santa Rosa Kid’s House and Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. These organizations work to protect and assist area children from abuse and neglect through treatment, prevention and advocacy.
Registration is available online at juanaspagodas.com/penguinplunge.htm. Registration is $25 to plunge, $25 for those “too chicken” to plunge and $35 for those plunging and participating in the adventure course. A long sleeve T-shirt is included with registration.
On the other side of the island, the Pirates of the Panhandle will be launching their first plunge event alongside the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.
The Pirate Plunge will have folks flocking into the water at noon with a party to follow. Festivities will include food, draft beer, live music and door prizes. The best dressed pirate will receive a $250 first prize, and a raffle will be held for a 55” 4k television.
This event will benefit the Weekend Food Program which provides meals for school children in need over the weekend. The program serves approximately 540 students in Navarre.
Registration for the Pirate Plunge is $20 to plunge and party while entry to the party alone costs $10. Tickets can be purchased at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier up to the day of the event.
So welcome the New Year with us here on relaxing (and only mildly frigid) Navarre Beach.