PHOTOS/VIDEO: The Dunleavy's Pub Polar Bear Plunge 


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The last thing you want to see in a crowd of people is a suicide bomber holding a sign that says “Happy New Year Infidels.” I watched this man intently while he passed a wedding party, a crowd of Incredible Hulks, cartoon characters, and a walking box of Franzia. Nope, it wasn’t the end of the world — it was the beginning of 2011. These people and hundreds more flocked to Sullivan’s Island New Year’s Day for Dunleavy’s annual Polar Bear Plunge.

This was my third year to run hysterically down the beach into wintery waters in the hopes of a fresh start for the new year, but it was the first year that I was included in one of the costumed groups. I was part of the chicken hat crew, which consisted of 20 or so friends donning chicken hats.

The party started at 11 a.m. at Dunleavy’s Pub, with the street next to the bar closed to traffic but clogged with revelers. As 2 p.m. approached, plungers trekked the half mile to the beach and the Dunleavys (recognizable by their white tuxedos) started getting everyone geared up for their baptism. After a 10-second countdown chanted by everyone on the foggy beach, the ribbon dropped and everyone bolted to the ocean. Some were satisfied with just a sprinkling, but I ran into the waist-deep water and dove in head-first. If you’re going to make the plunge, you’d better go all the way.

Here's a great video shot by local photographer Paul Zoeller. You can see more of his editorial photography at

Polar Bear Plunge from paul zoeller on Vimeo.

Mike Ledford has some more interviews along with freezing girls in bikinis.


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