Hundreds kick off 2017 with chilly Penguin Plunge

ATLANTIC BEACH, NC (WITN) - Hundreds of people got their New Year off to a chilly start by participating in the annual Atlantic Beach Penguin Plunge Sunday morning.

About 700 people of all ages dove into the cold water. The oldest participant was 90-year-old Ed Forney.

"Actually, I thought it was fairly warm today because there's no wind down here like there usually is. But yeah, it was great," he said.

For some, the annual event is their favorite way to rinse off the past year and prepare for the year ahead.

"You can kind of jump in the water, wash away the last year, come out refreshed and ready for the new year. So a lot of fun," said Miriam Sutton, who is one of the event's co-founders.

Money raised at the plunge benefits a different charity each year.

"It's just a really fun way, I think, to give back to those charities and it's a way to get everybody involved in just giving back," said Maddie Leary.

More than $11,000 was raised this year, which will go to the Veteran Student Success Center at Carteret Community College. The Center helps veterans transition from military to academic life.

"We thought it was just a really good program to have for Veterans coming back to school. There's a difference between military and school," Sutton said.

One plunge participant said she and her friends are participating to support the cause, and also to honor her late husband.

"We're representing my late husband, Matt Boyd, and he passed away from rectal cancer this year at the age of 35. So we're out here just going to honor him and celebrate his life and have fun and enjoy living," said Susan Staley.