Home Entertainment Let’s Polar Bear Plunge to Start a New Year!

Let’s Polar Bear Plunge to Start a New Year!

An article on the history, benefits, and local locations for the tradition of New Year's Polar Bear Plunges.

Photo: Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce

The first Polar Bear Plunges in the United States took place in the early 1900s in Brooklyn by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club and the L Street Brownies in Boston. I don’t know about you, but I can barely dip my toe in the Gulf of Mexico in March, much less the icy waters of Boston at the start of a new year.


It may not be quite as shocking as a Canadian plunge, but washing away the last year and emerging from the water with a clean slate for 2024 can be a transformative ceremony – a baptism of sorts.

  1. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! We’re pretty lucky in Northwest Florida to have mild winter weather. But even still, the colder air and gray skies can drive us indoors for long periods. The great thing about a Polar Bear Plunge is that it gets us outdoors to socialize with others.
  2. PICK ME UP AFTER THE LETDOWN With all the excitement and activity of the holidays, the days after can either feel like rest or a letdown. A Polar Bear Plunge is the perfect way to shake off the post-holiday blues and reset for a new year. I am no physician, but I am betting if you run into the cold water with a bunch of friends, it will end in laughter. Laughter is the best medicine after all and would probably serve as a cheerful pick-me-up. It’s also said to be a stress reliever, although some may say jumping in cold water would create the opposite response.
  3. FRESH START There is something ceremonial about walking into the water, submerging, and then leaving a cleansed person. In addition to the spiritual symbolism of being cleansed for a new start, there are supposed health benefits to an icy dip as well. We’ll leave the proof to the professionals, but it’s said that a frigid bath can reduce inflammation, create peace and calm in the post-cold warm-up, improve lung function, and so forth. Many use cold therapy to improve the appearance of skin and improve the look and feel of hair. You must know your body and whether or not you are healthy for this extreme activity. 

So where can you Polar Bear Plunge nearby? 

The Paradise Inn / Bar & Grill hosts the Pensacola Beach Polar Bear Plunge where nearly 1,000 dippers and spectators – many dressed in costume – flock to the beach to participate in this long-established tradition.
Register in advance to secure your 2024 t-shirt or you can register onsite starting at noon. The fee is $15 per person and participants will receive a Polar Bear Plunge t-shirt or a $10 registration donation to participate without the t-shirt. For $5 your under-fifth graders can join the Cub Club to get a special Polar Bear goodie.
12 noon: Day-of Registration Opens
2 pm: WE PLUNGE!
Immediately following the plunge:
  • Free black-eyed peas & cornbread
  • Costume Contest winners announced
  • John Hart Project live on stage

The Costume Contest Prizes include a 2-night stay at the Paradise Inn, a $50 gift card, 2-$20 gift cards, trophies, custom medallions, and CASH.

All proceeds go to the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce to fund events on the island.


Flounder’s Chowder House will host at 12:30 p.m. that includes free beer, free black-eyed peas and cornbread, and free t-shirts while supplies last. There will be a $500 costume contest and Jarod Mcconnel & High Aces will play live from noon until 4 p.m. For more on this Polar Bear Plunge, visit here. 


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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.