Shrieks, screams and cheers fill the salty sea air.
Some watch from the sand, not brave enough — or simply just not willing — to join the hundreds who take the winter ocean dip. For those who do take the plunge, it’s a refreshing, toe-numbing, goose-bump inducing start to the new year.
San Clemente residents Courtney Chantry, Lorrie Heckenkamp and Emily Heckenkamp, from left, stand together while they warm up on the beach after participating in the annual Polar Plunge at Lasuen Beach in Jan. 2017. (Jeff Antenore, File Photo)Linda Krum donned 2016 glasses and welcomed in the new year as she walked into the ocean during the 16th Annual Surf City Splash in Jan. 2016. Behind her are Dean Yado and his son Austin. (Bill Alkofer, Staff File)Linda Krum and Janelle O’Rork, left, flutter at the edge of the ocean as they welcome in the new year during the annual Surf City Splash Huntington Beach on Sunday, January 1, 2017. Photo by Mindy Schauer, Staff File)70-year-old Richard Price of Dana Point makes it back to the beach after swimming over a mile around Seal Rock off the coast of Lasuen Beach in San Clemente during the annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge on Jan. 1, 2017 while a Lifeguard boat floating offshore ensures the safety of all participants. (Jeff Antenore, File photo)Jenny Dewey of San Clemente cringes as she enters the cold water at Lasuen Beach for the New Year’s Day Polar Plunge on Jan. 1, 2017. (Jeff Antenore, File photo)Dozens of costumed New Year’s Day celebrators get ready to hit the 56 degree ocean as part of the annual Surf City Splash in Huntington Beach on January 1, 2017. (Photo by Mindy Schauer Staff File)Surfing icon Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti, back, pauses for a picture before the annual Surf City Splash in Huntington Beach on January 1, 2017. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Staff File)Janelle O’Rork, left, and Linda Krum flutter at the edge of the ocean as they welcome in the new year during the annual Surf City Splash Huntington Beach on January 1, 2017. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Staff File)Show Caption of Expand
Along the Southern California coastline, beachgoers clutching towels — and some dressed up in wacky costumes — will gather New Year’s Day to wash off the old year and ring in 2018 with a fresh, saltwatery start.
Some events are organized or benefit a charity, others are simply show-up-and-go dips.
And if your loved ones gripe about how cold it is, remind them that area waters will be in the mild low-60s, while Coney Island’s traditional New Year’s Day plunge dares people to dip into water currently at 48 degrees, with a chance it will get even colder.
Here’s some plunges to check out Jan. 1.
The goal this year: to get 1,000 splashers to hit the water in Surf City.
The Huntington Beach plunge was conceived 18 years ago by Mike Parks, who with a few friends held an event sponsored by his church to welcome the new year, dipping into the water near the pier.
After the group decided not to host the event a few year’s later, Huntington Beach resident Lee Love took over, re-naming it Surf City Splash. The Huntington resident is no stranger to the cold ocean water, taking daily swims, rain or shine, wearing just a swimsuit.
Through the years, the event has benefited various groups. These days, it’s a fundraiser for the Huntington Beach International Surf Museum.
This year is expected to be sunny by the time the noon dip starts, with air temperatures forecast to be about 67 degrees, with water at about 62 degrees. Water was about 56 degrees on New Year’s Day 2017.
At some point in Surf City Splash history, it caught on that if you have a quirky costume, you should come and get it drenched. People dressed as pirates, superheros, wearing New Year’s Eve party hats or pajamas join in the fun, and a best-costume award is handed out.
Last year, a 63-year-old man dressed in a droopy diaper came as Baby New Year, and a poop emoji even made an appearance. So needless to say — anything goes.
There are also awards for youngest, oldest, and splashers who travel the farthest to join the festivities. This year’s theme is “Going Full Swing in ’18.”
A pancake breakfast and registration begins at 9 a.m.; cost is $25 with funds benefiting the museum.
The Polar Plunge, a New Year’s Day tradition in San Clemente, offers an invigorating way to start the year. Since around 1980, people have been visiting San Clemente’s Lasuen Beach at 9 a.m. Jan. 1 to take a dip in the ocean.
Some barely touch the water. Others immerse themselves quickly and jump out. A few might bodysurf or swim for a few minutes. And a very hardy few will swim to Seal Rock and back, a round-trip that may take 25 to 35 minutes.
In the early years of the Polar Plunge, no one who would “swim the rock,” as they call it, wore protective wetsuits. In recent years, some do, some don’t.
State lifeguards monitor the event, ready to step in if needed.
Get there by parking at Calafia Beach (don’t forget to pay for parking) and walk up the path to Lasuen Beach, or go down a footpath to Lasuen Beach that leads down the bluff to the ocean from an opening between two homes along Calle de los Alamos, located several houses south of Calle Lasuen.
A king comes ashore in a boat and leads the crowd into the water at noon each New Year’s Day.
It’s hard to say when this annual tradition started at San Pedro Beach, but decades ago it was organized by the city’s parks and recreation department and lifeguards.
The tradition stuck, and the New Year’s Polar Plunge now is hosted by the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears, a group that formed in 1953. The Polar Bears elect a king and queen from its many beach enthusiasts at a beach party held for that purpose, according to the group’s website.
Through the year, the group hosts beach clean-ups and paint over graffiti at the historic Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse and do minor maintenance.
Everyone who participates in the plunge gets a certificate. Coffee, hot cocoa and cupcakes will be provided. The event is free to the public.
Sometimes, it just takes one person to start a tradition.
It was in 1991 that Hermosa Beach resident Ed Kushins decided to take a plunge in front of his home on 16th Street, gathering his children for a fun family dip to jump-start the new year, according to news reports.
Then friends started to join. Then neighbors. Then strangers.
In 2015, 70 people joined in the 25th annual plunge.
If you prefer to get your body warm before you hit the cold, Beach Cities Yoga is hosting for the first time a Polar Bear Yoga Plunge.
Meet at Beach Cities Yoga at about 10 a.m. for the class, then stroll with a group at 11 a.m. to 10th street. If you’re not a member of the studio and just want to drop in for the event, cost is $10.
Register reporter Fred Swegles contributed to this report.
Source: Oc Register