Nocatee Polar Plunge carries on frigid tradition

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Nocatee held its 13th Annual Polar Plunge Jan. 8, and the water was just as cold as the first year they held the event, which has become a community tradition.

In fact, the temperature of the water in the Nocatee Splash Water Park pool was 61 degrees, which matched the temperature during the inaugural event in 2010, which was held in February.

Residents from all ages jumped into the pool, with some more hesitant than others before diving fully into the cold water.

Eight-year-old Leana Zunno took a calculated approach prior to getting into the pool.

“I waited for my brother (Nicholas, 10,) to jump in first, then I jumped in,” Zunno said.

Sadie Wagner was determined to not let the cold water bother her and was the first of her family to jump in.

The Perri family have taken the plunge in previous year, but this time around John Perri joined his children and embraced 2022 by diving in with them.

“I promised them that I would do it this year,” Perri said. “It was cold.”

Knowing of the shock value that comes with jumping into cold water, he knew going in slow was not an option.

“You have to just go for it and jump right in,” Perri said. “It would be too painful otherwise.”

His youngest daughter Leah Perri initially said the water was not that cold, as her lips shivered while she said it, however after thinking about it she did admit that she felt much colder once she got out of the water than while she was swimming around in the pool.

Even joining in the fun was St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick, who attended the event and took the plunge with a couple of deputies, uniform and all.

The high temperature on Jan. 8 got up to around 72 degrees, which doesn’t seem that bad, but it had yet to reach that point when the polar plunge took place at 8 a.m.

For Jimmy Knowles and his daughter Miranda, it was their first polar plunge.

“It was freezing,” Miranda Knowles said emphatically.

Each participant received a towel on their way into the park and the towels came in handy as many residents wrapped themselves in them both before and after the plunge.

“It’s pretty cool that they gave us towels, because it’s a pretty chilly morning,” Jimmy Knowles said.

Hot chocolate was also available, and many residents took advantage of that, especially after getting out of the pool.

Jimmy Knowles was one of many residents who wore a costume to the event, as he was dressed up like an elf.

Some of the other costumes included polar bears, ballerinas, hot dogs and even a father and son duo that were the characters Mario and Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. video game.

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