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Swimmers to brave cold waters for New Year's

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

A few hardy souls living in a Stockbridge subdivision were expected to ring in the new year in a way most would never dare to do.

Thursday, a handful of residents in The Villages at Eagles Landing were to participate in the second annual Polar Bear Plunge. The event features a mini-parade by the participants down Prestwick Street to the subdivision's outdoor swimming pool. Tadition is that, when everyone arrives, they hop into the pool for a brief but chilly dip.

According to Judy Neal, one of the residents and a witness to last year's event, the annual plunge started as a way to show support for the community. "It's fun, I was there last year [and] we had six people." says Neal. "It's a good way to showcase the neighborhood."

Neal says a number of prominent residents who live in the subdivision are aware of the annual New Year's Day tradition, including Stockbridge Mayor R.G. Kelley, City Manager Ted Strickland and City Councilman Rip Gardner.

Kelley, who lives next to the pool, gets a bird's eye view of the plunge. Although he did not join the swimmers this year, he says the event is organized in a spirit of promoting the community. "It's just something to get the neighbors out. It's something unusual."

The temperatures were predicted to be chilly for Jan. 1, so Kelley says the dip in the pool is invigorating.

"You've got to have a good heart when you hit that cold water," he adds. "They won't stay in very long. They'll be awake when they come out, if they're half-asleep."