What started out as a dare between friends to jump into the cold Island water celebrating the new year has become an event all of its own. Island residents Greg Morrison, Blain McCuloch, Traylor Sells and Cindy Shomrock didn’t just dip their feet in the cold winter Island water, they went all in to mark the New Year and started what would become the Island’s annual Polar Bear Dip.
“Actually, a lot of us like to take our first bath in the Gulf of Mexico,” co-founder Morrison said. “We’re very much lucky to be around people who come out here and support us. We’re polar bears with a cause.”Proceeds from the event are donated to local nonprofit organizations. Morrison said they’ve held the event for 18 years, facing every element of weather. Regardless of the cold temperature, he said the show must go on.
It won’t be any different at the 19th Annual Polar Bear Dip where many will be taking the plunge at what is unofficially the nation’s warmest Polar Bear Dip.
The dip takes place at high noon New Year’s Day. More than 1,000 are expected to participate in the dash and splash into the Gulf of Mexico.
Participants are encouraged to wear costumes to the event, which features live music and a costume contest. “It started out as a party on New Year’s Eve. We were sitting around having some margaritas, the four of us, and it was just a goofy idea.”

By RAUL GARCIA | Staff writer