As in the past, the fourth annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge organized by the Sons of Ireland will raise money for a couple of worthy causes.


The beneficiaries of this year’s Sea Bright dip are Clean Ocean Action and Challenged Youth Sports, a Lincroft organization that builds parks for kids with disabilities.

But let’s not overlook the very solid, selfish reasons to jump into the Atlantic Ocean on the first day of the year, beginning with the fact that it’s a little insane. If you’re not willing to do something crazy/bold on a day that’s all about fresh starts, when will you, pilgrim? And what’s a better way to prove your commitment to change than to thrust oneself into churning, steel-cold saltwater?

Plus, the experience leaves you with a hard-to-top answer to the workplace question, ‘What did you do this weekend?’

Last Saturday, redbankgreen met up on the Sea Bright beach with three members of the plunge organizing committee. One, John Burgess, showed up in sandals—it was an unseasonably warm day—and got his feet wet of his own volition. Another, Dennis Nitka, had his topsiders filled with seawater more unexpectedly.

Both pronounced the water numbingly cold. A good sign, no doubt.

So what’s it like to go the full monty?

“You start running toward the surf, and it’s just exhilarating—all that energy,” says Sean Clifford. “And you hit the water, and it’s absolute shock.”

“The first wave of people that hits the water—they are out a million times faster than they went in,” says Burgess.

The first time this crew put on a plunge, they drew about 30 people. Last year, 150 went in. Most participants wear swimsuits, but some don wetsuits. One guy shows up every year in a Winnie the Pooh costume, which makes for a rather slower exit from the surf.

Obviously, it’s all for laffs. But a bit of advice, no matter what you wear: if you’re going to do it, do it all the way. The first year, a guy didn’t dunk his head. “He got abused for months afterward,” says Nitka.

The event, at Donovan’s Reef, kicks off with a “Bagpipe March to the Beach” at 12:30p, followed by the 1p plunge. Toweling off and re-clothing commences shortly thereafter.

The event is capped with a catered party with music that goes on for several hours at Donovan’s.

For more info, check out the Sons of Ireland website or Email the organizers.