Dewey Dunk rings in new year with a splash of tradition and community spirit

Over 100 dunkers screamed their way into the new year, plunging into the Atlantic Ocean at Dewey Beach's 13th annual dunk.

Natasha Smith-Cady (left) and Rick Cady are seen in winter outwear on a Delaware beach

Natasha Smith-Cady (left) and Rick Cady gear up for their sixth Dewey Dunk. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

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Despite crashing waves and temperatures at a brisk 40 degrees, more than 100 locals and out-of-towners converged on Dewey Beach to bid farewell to 2023 by dunking into the ocean.

In its 13th year, the Dewey Business Partnership’s “Dewey Dunk” has become a fun annual tradition.

Dewey Dunk participants shiver at the starting line.
Dewey Dunk participants shiver at the starting line. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

Kelly Ann, the executive director of the DBP, notes that the event’s attendance has grown since its inception.

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“We have families that have come since the beginning of when we started it. And for a lot of people, it’s a great family New Year’s Day tradition,” Ann said. “I believe the first time we did the dangly [we] may have had about 25 dunkers. Since then, it’s grown to over 100.”

Brock Maloomian, a Dewey Beach native who now lives in Lewes, experienced his first plunge Monday.

“This is a nice little shock to the system. Good way to start 2024. I feel pretty good, honestly,” he said. “Had a hard week at work, 2023 was good. But I just feel like a nice cold plunge today. Which will get everything set and it did. I feel fantastic, it woke me right up.”

Rick Cady and Natasha Smith-Cady, of Alexandria, Virginia, were celebrating their sixth plunge.

The couple echoed Maloomian’s sentiments.

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“All of this is so fabulous and doing a dunk, It just changes your mind. You get into the water, you wash off all of last year and you’re just going to bring in good things for this year,” Smith-Cady said. “But here’s the most important thing, if we’re gonna do it, we have to go under, not just get our toes wet. You need to actually go into the water totally submerged or else it doesn’t count.”

Brock Maloomian (left) and Tommy McMahon pose for a photo during a Dewey Beach polar plunge
Brock Maloomian (left), a Dewey Beach native, takes his first plunge alongside friend Tommy McMahon. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)
A bonfire is seen on a Delaware beach
A bonfire set for participants of the 2024 Dewey Dunk. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

Cady said he spent the morning mentally preparing for the plunge.

“I’ve been psyching up for it now all morning looking at it and yesterday I saw a guy jump in and go for a swim on his own. If he can do that yesterday for no reason I can’t do it today,” he said. “The preparation is coffee, maybe some liquid encouragement and towels, warm clothing for once you get out.”

After taking the plunge, dunkers of age were treated to champagne and bloody marys.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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