The Lewes Polar Bears started the jump into the new year with five members in 1983, swelled to a record 350 for the millennium jump of 2000 and by Jan. 1, 2014, had fallen back to 30 plungers.
Yes, it seems that everyone and his grandmother is jumping into the ocean from Lewes to Dewey, Bethany and Ocean City, Md. Whatever the tradition lost, it's a free country to the 200-mile offshore limit.
"It's tradition here in Lewes," said Bill Lingo. "We will always come here on New Year's Day." Hard-core Lewes Polar Bear Bob Hughes has mixed feelings about all the groups forming and wondered when conditions are brutal who shows up. Last New Year's Day was relatively easy with 45-degree air temps and about 38 in the water.
The next jump is the Sunday, Feb. 2 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics in Rehoboth Beach.
Christening 2014 at the Cape Henlopen State Park were Dale Johnson, Glenn Gerson, Karen Gusmer, James Gusmer, Tom Gusmer, Wendy Gusmer, Spencer Steele, Chip Davis, Karen Verna Carlson, Harriet Taylor, Amanda Lantz, Richard Lantz, Alison Hughes, Connie Miller, John David Miller, Avary Miller, Bob Hughes, Ed Tesseia, Bruce Egolf, Bill Lingo, Tessa Lingo, Jack Lingo, Pat Backus, Murray Padgett, Jonathan Ball, D. Brooks, Rachel Dawson, Aryanna Briddell, Keith Ricker, Erin Ricker, Kamdyn Shockley, Tykee Perry, Brittany Kelson, Brad Egolf, Julie Egolf, and Carr and Carrie Lingo, who was accompanied by several members of her surprise wedding party.