“I’m not cold,” insisted Larry Washington, who came back for his second year wearing nothing but Hawaiian trunks and a gold neck chain.
Most of the others — plungers and spectators alike — were bundled in layers as they waited for newcomers to register and the clock to tick high noon.
“It’s a way to start off the New Year with something active, aquatic … and memorable,” said Rome High swim coach Joey Powers, who convinces at least a handful of his pupils to jump with him each year.
But not necessarily their parents. Julie Waguespack huddled against the ticket building, out of the wind, with a dry towel for her daughter Anna draped over her insulated winter coat like a blanket. Her son Spencer said he wasn’t planning to join his sister, either.
“Once was enough,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t leave anything in the water so I don’t need to go back in.”
The Plunge is a yearly tradition for Paige and Dylan Eubanks. The couple arrived in sweatsuits, and she had flip-flops on her feet.
“That’s going to be the least of my problems,” she said about her shoes. “It’s helping me get used to it.”
In the end, 47 people paid their $25 to jump in the frigid lake. Most popped in and popped out, but about 20 paddled around for a few more seconds and a handful of those hardy souls swam across the lake and back.
After the plunge, participants joined non-jumpers for a meal of greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread.
“It was a good day; no one had a heart attack,” said a smiling Susan Miller, who drove up from Dallas with her husband just to watch.
The Cave Spring Historical Society has sponsored the plunge since the first one on Jan. 1, 2013. The money is earmarked to research and restore the hand-hewn cabin found behind the skin of the old Green Hotel downtown.