Live Like a Local: Tybee’s Polar Plunge

Published Jan 17, 2017

While most of Savannah enjoyed a low key New year’s day at home enjoying Hoppin’ john and collards to ensure money and good fortune; a few hundred locals and tourists started this year with a quick dip in the chilly Atlantic. The 18th annual Tybee Polar Plunge along with the‘ Gang of Goofs’ Costume Contest and Parade has become a favorite way to celebrate a new start while extending the revelry of New Year’s Eve’s festive spirit. It’s also benefits a great cause, as all proceeds go to the beloved Tybee Island Post Theater. This small community theater had an extra need of the funds this year as the building had some minor damage due to Hurricane Matthew.



I’ll be honest, as a Savannah native, the idea of willingly leaping into frigid water has always seemed a little crazy to me. No matter how great the cause. However with typical Tybee flair and our wonderful mild weather, this polar plunge was more of a spring fling. As we love any excuse to dress in costume in this town, the whole shebang kicks off at 11:00 am with a colorful parade of festooned ‘gangs’ of three or more participants dressed in various themes to compete in the costume contest and Plunge. No gang violence here, unless water guns count. Many family groups come up with creative takes on the themes, this year there were superheroes, dead rock stars, and a family of Emoji’s. There was even an Elvis sighting. Even the Avengers couldn’t beat simplicity though, with this year’s trophy going to a group of working class gentlemen, ‘ The Plungers’ who literally had toilet plunger hats. The coveted trophy will have the victorious ‘ gangs’ named engraved on it and will be put on display in the local Tybee business of the Gang’s choosing. The Parade which starts at Tybee Island Pier, meanders on a quick route to the nearby beach where the actual plunging happens. The goofs parade past the judge’s and a winner is summarily chosen and prizes handed out.

Now time to dive in!

Unlike previous years, the water was a balmy 63 degrees for the hundreds of people who ‘ braved’ the barely chilly Atlantic at noon. As far as organized chaos goes this was definitely the fun kind. Groups holding hands with children squealing in joy. One little ‘ shark’ boy splashed me! As the main event wound down, some gangs grabbed their souvenir t-shirts and went home. Many of us goofs, however, stuck around as the temperature rose to the lower 70’s and just enjoyed another day on the beach in our Low country Paradise.

The sun shone down on the various costumed kids and adults frolicking on the beach, building sand castles. The whole beach looked like a day at Dragon con with all of the cosplay. The seagulls for once steered clear.

Live Like a Local: Tybee's Polar Plunge | Savannah Dream Vacations

The end of my first day of 2017 was surreal dinner across the island at AJ’s Dockside. Batman, a pajama clad group of friends and I joined some pirates for a snack of conch fritters, fresh shrimp and local craft beer. Watching the sun set over the marsh, I think this year couldn’t have had a more promising start. Though the event is 18 years old but this was my first Polar plunge. This event was a fun family friendly way to begin anew this year. I just might do it again next year, only if it’s warm enough!

Join the locals next year for the‘ Gang of Goofs’ parade and Tybee Polar plunge. We do recommend you buy your tickets in advance though. Tickets are $25 for adults &$15 for kids: to participate in the costume contest you must have a gang of three. All proceeds go to Tybee Island Post Theater. You can purchase tickets on their website at:

Ask us about accommodations for your New Year’s stay with us in Savannah!