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New Year's Eve is always a sort of wonderland experience, with plenty of people getting sucked into the rabbit hole at midnight. From the Grand Ball at the Aquarium to tiny little Raval on King Street, the party people were dressed to impress. I witnessed plenty of unraveled bow ties long before the witching hour and, ahem, a certain arts editor finding his way through the cold night thanks to a fetching young lass' steady arm. Fortunately, life's a beach and that is where all the cool kids showed up on New Year's Day — at Sullivan's Island for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. As we crested the dune, I was taken aback by the sight of thousands, as far as the eye could see, in every degree of dress, undress, and costumed buffoonery. Attendance this year was a far cry from the plunge's early days, when a few still-drunk-from-the-night-before-and-too-numb-to-feel-the-cold crazy loons stormed the beach; I can't wait to see who turns up next year. Kudos to Bill Dunleavy, the staff of Dunleavy's Pub, and the scores of volunteers who have turned this zany annual tradition into a successful fundraiser for the Special Olympics.

1. Gather ye foolhardy polar bear plungers while ye still have a New Year's buzz 2. "Do women know about shrinkage?" "What do you mean, like laundry?" "No ... like when a man goes swimming ... afterwards ..." "It shrinks?" "Like a frightened turtle." "Why does it shrink?" "It just does." (courtesy of Seinfeld) 3. Hayley and Gar Remus rang in the new year at their rocking wedding reception, which was held at the William Aiken House 4. Bless you, oh father-in-flipflops 5. Scott Arrington and Kevin Ring: mullets, ruffles and lamé... oh my! 6. Dan Schulte and Josh Blaylock give their polar bear plunge attire a dry run at Poe's Tavern 7. A beekeeper in our midst 8. A one-man pierogi bandwagon 9. These festive ladies claimed a plum people-watching perch at the S.C. Aquarium 10. He asked and she said yes! Ted Bucierka and Suzy Garrasic celebrated the new year by getting engaged 11. Sarah Bowersox and Ryan Kelly gave the Grand Ball a thumbs up 12. A trio of soggy Spongebobs 13. A bevy of Viking broads hold court near the beer truck


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