Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Chilling Beginning To The New Year On The "Edge of America"--Bill Murray Style

It was a chilling beginning to the new year for many on the "Edge of America." Happy Lowcountry residents and visitors did more than "Freeze Your Bill's Off" at the "2nd Annual Bill Murray Look-a-Like Polar Plunge."

In the spirit of Bill Murray's request "Can I have another one of these with some booze in it?(Groundhog Day)," celebrants boozed their bills off. With four dollar Smirnoff Bloody Mary's and Seagram's Vodka Screwdrivers coursing through their bodies for anti freeze, thousands of new year celebrants joyfully ran into the 50 degree waters of Folly Beach. "I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people... Actually, it's more of a guideline than a rule(Ghostbusters)," but I could not resist the urge to join them. As a footnote, I feel it necessary in light of my facetious reference to "boozed" to insert this: It was all done in modesty and for a good cause.

The event started at 11AM. The early morning sun warmed the cool sands of the beach in front of the Tides near Folly Beach Pier as the gentle, rolling waves of the ocean kissed the shoreline. Encouraged to dress as their favorite Bill Murray character, the steadily growing crowd gathered and waited for the judging to begin, which took place at 12:30PM--a half hour before the actual plunge was scheduled. Awards were given out for the Best Guy, Best Girl, Best Team and Best Overall Bill Murray costumes. By the time the judging ended, thousands of celebrants filled the beach and the wooden decks of the Tides. Not everyone came dressed as Bill Murray wannabes. In a way, it oddly looked like an overdue quasi Halloween event.

With awards handed out and 1PM rapidly approaching, the plungers gathered at the yellow taped starting line, while spectators holding cameras and cell phones lined the edges of a section of Folly Beach about three hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide that would serve as the corridor leading to the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

They cheered and chanted as the minutes ticked by. Some, probably second guessing their decision to be associated with this group of crazies and others repeating over and over, "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful... I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful... I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful...(What About Bob)," as a way to psyche themselves up for the frosty awakening to the new year shortly to take place.

And then, the tape dropped and the herd of frenzied Bill Murray misfits ran into the calm, cold waters on the "Edge of America" and froze their Bill's off; many of them running out of the water quicker than they ran into it. After taking pictures of the initial plunge, I put my camera down, removed the unnecessary articles of clothing and joined them.

Actually, froze is somewhat of an exaggeration. Fifty degree water really isn't cold at all. I have swam in cold water before. The feet and the legs are the easy part. Acclimating the upper extremities is the difficult part of the experience, but if you dip into the water quickly without thinking about it, the shock is lessened. It's exhilarating and it's refreshing.

So, feeling good from head to toe, it was time to savor a four dollar Seagram's Vodka Screwdriver and high five fellow plungers on the decks of the Blu Restaurant. It was a polarific way to start the new year.

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