By Jason A. Smith
Residents in one Stockbridge neighborhood are preparing to start the new year off in chilly fashion, thanks to a budding tradition in their community.
The Villages at Eagle's Landing will host the fourth annual Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 1, at 11 a.m.
The icy event will include a parade, featuring individuals who live in the neighborhood, and will culminate when a group of residents -- in summer swimwear -- will swim the length of the community's pool.
Paul Bryant, who lives in the subdivision, brought the plunge concept with him from Oklahoma, when he moved to Georgia six years ago.
"It's a good way to start the new year," said Bryant. "A lot of people come and watch, more than jump."
He added that, typically, about 10 people brave the pool waters for the plunge, for 50-60 onlookers from the neighborhood.
Tim Thompson has lived in the Villages at Eagle's Landing since 2007, and has taken part in the plunge each year since its inception, locally, in 2008.
Thompson said he was intrigued, when Bryant approached him about the concept.
"It was a little bit like a dare at first," said Thompson. "I did it the first time for the novelty of it. It gives you a rush. When you hit the water and it's freezing, you just want to get out on the other side."
Judy Neal also lives in the Villages, and plans to be a spectator during the plunge. She said the annual occasion has been "embraced by the entire neighborhood."
Neal added that the plunge displays some of the notable qualities of the community she and her neighbors call home.
"We think it's the greatest neighborhood in all of Henry County, not only because of its unique location, but because it is filled with wonderful neighbors, who share a sense of community, and enjoy a lot of camaraderie together," said Neal.