By MADDY VITALE
Call it refreshing. Call it invigorating. Or, well, most might call it crazy, yet two Ocean City residents continued the tradition of heralding in the New Year with a chilly plunge in the ocean.
Ocean City canceled the official event, known as the New Year’s Day “First Dip,” on the beach near the Music Pier, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gatherings.
But that didn’t stop friends Carl Wanek and Joe Schneider from continuing the zany tradition by making a mad dash into the frigid water.
“This is to wash away 2020,” Wanek noted moments before taking the plunge. “It hasn’t been a good year for a lot of people but we are all hoping 2021 will be a better one.”
Wanek really braved the 40-degree air temperature and 46-degree water temperature, wearing just a bathing suit. Schneider opted for his annual “First Dip” attire — a Donald Trump mask and dark suit.
Schneider said that the two friends since 2009 weren’t going to let the cancellation of the official event, or the pandemic, get in the way of doing something they have enjoyed for years.
“It’s what we do,” Schneider said after running back to shore and taking off his Trump mask.
Spectators watched in amazement as the men plunged into the surf on the rainy holiday afternoon.
On a typical year, crowds come to watch their friends and family take the “rite of passage,” as Wanek and Schneider call it. But this year, it was just them and a few others.
Wanek and Schneider were joined by Wanek’s son, Carl Jr., 18, and his friend, Tripp Crowley, 17, who ran into the ocean when most people would probably be running to land because of the cold.
“I did it when I was young and I wanted to do it again,” Tripp said. “It is a tradition.”
Before the plunge, the friends joined at Wanek’s “Beer Garden,” a combination garage and pseudo sports hangout behind Wanek’s Wesley Road home, to “warm up” before the their chilly plunge.