The revelers take the plunge for the New Year

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Kate and Bryan Hayden, of Woolwich Township, NJ, emerge from the cold waves with their sons, Logan and Colin.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

It wasn’t what you might call a conventional family-style celebration on New Year’s Day for the Haydens. Nor for any family, for that matter.

Kate Hayden wore a blue swimsuit, while her husband, Bryan, and sons Logan, 9, and Colin, 7, were shirtless in water cold enough to chatter their teeth.

“It’s cold,” said Colin.

“I’m really cold,” Logan added.

The Haydens, of Woolwich Township, County Gloucester, joined hundreds of other revelers on the beach at Eighth Street in Ocean City to celebrate the New Years in perhaps the wackiest way possible – with a dip in water at 46 degrees.

“It was invigorating. We thought it would be a fresh start for the new year, ”said Kate Hayden of her family’s decision to take the plunge together to mark the arrival of 2022.

Ocean City’s first dive, as it’s called, is one of the Jersey Shore’s weirdest vacation rituals. The family plunge turns normally quiet winter beaches into a gigantic party scene – for just one day.

Lots of bathers charging into the freezing waves dressed in goofy costumes to make the experience even more outrageous. Floppy hats, green wigs, fluffy bathrobes and comfy pajamas were some of the popular outfits on Saturday.

Mariah Burkholder, of Lancaster, Pa., However, wore only a swimsuit. She looked like she was about to lounge on the beach on a hot summer day. But then she thought about the temperature of the water.

” It’s so cold. My God, it’s freezing, ”Burkholder exclaimed before even testing the water.

Mariah Burkholder and her brother-in-law Cristian Spencer kiss after jumping into the water.

Unlike some of the people who timidly tiptoed into the ocean, Burkholder dove into the water to get wet as she entered. Then she draped herself in a sweatshirt and towel to warm up.

“It was good. I would do it again. It was not bad at all. But I can’t feel my legs, however,” she said.

Derrick Williams of Ocean City checked the water temperature and decided it was a “perfect day” to dive.

Williams was also undisturbed by the hazy, hazy weather that hit the Jersey Shore for the holidays. By the time the dive began at 2 p.m., large gray clouds were looming overhead, pouring intermittent rain. But the air temperature was relatively mild at 52 degrees.

“It’s a big day,” Williams said in a neutral tone. “The temperature is hot. It’s a great day to dive. Why not start the year off by doing something different, something wacky, and something fun? “

Ocean City resident Michael DeVlieger salutes triumphantly as he wades into the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)

Williams was joined by two of his friends from Allentown, Pa., Courtney and Ark Wazny, who are married. Courtney said she and her husband made the two-hour drive from Allentown to Ocean City specifically to participate in the dive.

“I always wanted to do it. We traveled all the way from Allentown so that we could be here, ”she said.

However, Janice Williams, Derrick’s wife, didn’t give a damn. She said categorically that she had no intention of jumping into the water.

“I’m holding the towels,” she said, laughing at her job during the dive.

The celebration of “First Dip” is one of the wackiest New Years rituals on the Jersey Shore.
Hundreds of divers line up on the beach, waiting for the departure time at 2 p.m.
A sign outside the Music Pier on the promenade gives a glimpse of the plunge into the ocean.


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