Brave souls came out to Navarre Beach for the New Year’s Day tradition of jumping into the Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound, all while raising money and awareness for local charities and organizations.
NAVARRE BEACH — A shark, presumably a great white, walked her dog into the Gulf of Mexico.
Another shark, this one definitely a hammerhead, talked with a gigantic lobster over on Santa Rosa Sound.
This was New Year's Day in Navarre Beach, where partying for a good cause on the first day of the year is a tradition, punctuated by running into various bodies of water, with Wednesday's temperature hovering near 60 degrees.
On the Gulf side, it was the Pirate Plunge behind Broussard's Bayou Grill and Cajun Market that went first. On the Sound side, it was the Penguin Plunge 'n Paddle behind Juana's Pagodas and Sailors' Grill.
Dressing up before you took the dive — like the sharks, pirates, penguins and lobster — isn't required but always welcome.
"It's a little bit cold, but it's a really beautiful day for (the plunge)," said Mark Miller, who did the pre-swim countdown at the Pirate Plunge. "Two years ago, it was 18 degrees and windy ... now that was cold."
While partying may have been the bait to get people out to the beach, both events helped raise money and awareness for local charities and organizations.
The Pirate Plunge's cause this year was Food For Vets, which supplies meals to families of local veterans in need.
In 2019, Pirates of the Panhandle, which organizes the Pirate Plunge, raised about $4,500 for the Weekend Food Program.
At the Penguin Plunge — which had a paddleboard race before — a tent was set up on the beach for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Florida Panhandle chapter, EscaRosa Suicide Prevention Coalition and Healing Paws for Warriors, which tries to pair wounded veterans with service dogs who were once rescue dogs.
"Juana's wanted to recognize suicide prevention groups in the community this year, which is great," said Jessica Roberts, board chair for AFSP Florida Panhandle. "We're out here providing resources about suicide prevention advocacy and research, raise funds for the cause and help out our community."