“Freezin’ for a Reason,” was the motivation for thousands who took a plunge into the Atlantic Ocean along the Delaware beaches Sunday.
A total of 3,325 “bears” took part in the 24th annual Lewes Polar Bear Plunge at Rehoboth Beach. The major fundraiser benefits the Delaware Special Olympics, raking in a record $780,000.
“First” photographer Paul Parmelee put down his camera to make his 12th plunge.
“My first plunge was the coldest of my 12, so every year has been warmer since then,” said Parmelee, who braved the balmy 36 and 37 degree air and water temps, respectively. “Not that it makes it any less painful when you hit the water.”
As he does every year, Parmelee plunged with longtime friend, Kevin McCabe, who has 14 plunges to his name. Kevin’s 13-year-old nephew Matthew is a Special Olympian and serves as the inspiration for his group of 10 plungers.
Parmelee said there is no secret method to dunking, you just do it.
“Before you know it, everyone is screaming and running into the water, and that adrenaline rush is met with what to me can be best described as a punch in the stomach,” Parmelee said. “As quickly as you run in, you try to run out even faster. Although with every step, it seems your legs get more numb.”
Numbness aside, Parmelee has made it his tradition to jump in quickly one more time. “The second time is no easier,” he said.