Dive into the new year with the Pelican Plunge

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Dive into the new year with the Pelican Plunge

FIVE MINUTES with Jonathan Greene, president of Friends of Hunting Island
By JUSTIN PAPROCKI
jpaprocki@islandpacket.com
Published Thursday, December 29, 2011   |  493 Words  |  

The Lowcountry doesn't get cold enough for a polar bear plunge, but a pelican plunge? That seems to be a name better-suited to the more temperate climate here.

The Friends of Hunting Island is holding its annual Pelican Plunge on New Year's Day near the island's lighthouse to raise money for Discover Carolina educational programs through the state park service.

Jonathan Greene, president of Friends of Hunting Island, has taken the plunge a few times. He describes why the New Year isn't the same without a cool dip.

Question. How did the Pelican Plunge start?

Answer. This is our fourth year. Ever since it started, our profits have gone to the Discover Carolina program. We wanted to do something to benefit that program. We hope to raise between $3,500 and $4,500.

It's weather dependent, but we get about 200 and 300 jumping in the water. Maybe 500 total supporting and watching all the crazies go in.

Q. Do you enjoy going in?

A. I do. It's funny, depending on the year, the water temperature can be warmer than the air.

I grew up in the Boston area and the first of January they have a group called the L Street Brownies. They were predominately older men. Up there it would be 15 degrees outside, and you'd be jumping into freezing water. It must be miserable. At least here it's not that bad.

Q. What type of people do you get?

A. The campsite is usually pretty full so we have people vacationing who do it. I get emails all up and down the East Coast from people who are going to be in the Beaufort area and want to see what's going on. It's developing its own traditions as well.

We never designed for people to show up in costumes. But that's catching on. We have a costume parade beforehand. It's mostly leftover from New Year's -- the 2012 glasses and all that stuff.

Q. What's the age range?

A. The youngest are probably 7 to 8 years old. We've had folks well into their 70s and 80s jump. It's certainly attractive to high school and college-age kids. But we've got a wide spread of ages.

Q. Do you plan on going in this year?

A. I've got so many responsibilities making sure everything's going OK, I don't know if I'll make it in.

Q. Oh, you might as well do it.

A. (laughs) I have the last three so I might as well.

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Friends of Hunting Island: www.friendsofhuntingisland.org