ATLANTIC CITY — How cold was too cold for a polar plunge on New Year’s Day?
For several dozen brave souls who ran into the Atlantic Ocean Monday afternoon in Atlantic City, the freezing weather wasn’t enough to deter them.
In the wake of several polar plunge cancellations at the Jersey Shore prior to the weekend, Atlantic City trudged on and held its 27th annual Polar Bear Plunge in front of Resorts Casino Hotel in what participants said was one of the coldest plunges they’ve ever experienced.
A smaller event, the sixth annual Penguin Plunge, also went ahead in the water near Caspian and Maine avenues to benefit the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.
“The last couple years, we lucked out,” Joe Monaghan said of the Polar Bear Plunge. “We’d do a plunge, and after that it was really cold. Eventually, it was going to happen when it was really cold, but it was good.”
The plunge was one of only a few to take place in South Jersey on New Year’s Day after nearby Ventnor, Margate, Brigantine and Ocean City canceled or rescheduled plunges citing cold weather concerns.
The event raised money for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and included an after-party at Landshark Bar and Grill.
Michelle Tabor came to the plunge with her adult son and husband after originally planning to participate in Ventnor as they had done in years past. The fact that it was going to be freezing outside didn’t change their plans.
“My husband gets us to come every year,” she said. “If I didn’t plunge today, I’d hear about it for the next 20 years.”
Temperatures Monday afternoon were in the teens, while the water stayed somewhere in the 30s. Emergency responders, including the city’s police and fire departments, were at the event for safety.
Monaghan, of Abington, Pennsylvania, helped organize the event with Michael Kahlenberg, and he was out with a megaphone on the beach, wearing a swim cap and shorts counting down the minutes until the plunge.
People from near and far lined up at the shoreline and ran into the shallow waters before they sprinted out and rushed to put on dry clothes.
Bill Lacy and Melissa Brookes picked Monday’s event to polar plunge for the first time. Lacy, 54, of Maple Shade, Burlington County, said as they watched the other polar plunges get canceled, their plan to participate in Atlantic City’s event was tentative, but they ultimately decided to go for it.
Everett Brown, 64, of Franklin Township, Gloucester County, was no newcomer to polar plunges, as he has participated in ones held in Brigantine, Ocean City, Wildwood and Sea Isle City in the past, sometimes in the same year.
“It (the plunge) was cold, but I remember about three years ago in Sea Isle that we were outside ready to plunge and it started snowing,” he said. “Now that was cold.”
Some people came in costume, including two family members in matching Christmas onesie pajamas, a pair of friends dressed as sharks and a lot of half-naked Santas.
Among the youngest in the crowd was Owen Callahan, 7, of Aududon, Camden County, who briefly ran in with his father. Given another chance, he would do it again, he said.
“It was awesome ... and cold.”