Red and purple beach flags did not put a damper on WaterColor Inn & Resort's fifth annual Polar Bear Plunge Jan. 1.
A large group of locals and tourists arrived by 9 a.m. at the resort seeking a New Year jolt with a jump in the BeachClub pool. Conditions were favorable for the dip with temperatures in the mid-60s and clear skies.
This year was to be the South Walton Fire District's inaugural Polar Bear Splash, which was to be a charity event at Ed Walline beach access with a bonfire and a paddleboard dash to round out the day.
A $20 donation was to benefit the SWFD Department Relations Committee and Donations 4 Danny, an initiative to raise money for Danny Margagliano, the South Walton firefighter who was severely injured in a swimming accident last summer.
But without its own pool and with red flag surf conditions, SWFD canceled the event the day before it was to take place.
"Due to the high probability of strong rip currents forecast for early tomorrow morning the beach flags for South Walton's beaches will be changed to red and purple this afternoon. Unfortunately this will require the canceling of tomorrow’s SWFD Polar Bear Splash and Paddle Board Dash," said SWFD's notice on The Sun's Facebook page.
While South Walton’s event was scrapped, similar New Year’s Day plunges were held in Destin and Navarre Beach.