A quarter century after he first jumped off the Herring Cove wharf completely alone, Gary Sullivan was back to do it all again on Tuesday.
The tradition started when Sullivan made a deal with a few friends, fuelled by New Year’s Eve cheer. By the next morning he found himself staring out at the frigid ocean and wondering where his buddies had gone. After about 20 minutes he made a choice.
“Nobody else showed up. I said, ‘To heck with it,’ and I went down and jumped in by myself,” he said.
The next year 24 people showed up, and the jump has kept growing since. About 140 people turned out to jump into Herring Cove this year, raising approximately $5,700 for four local charities and Feed Nova Scotia.
Organizer Robert MacLellan said he thinks the draw of the Herring Cove dip is a “good luck thing.”
“New Year’s Day is a great day to wipe away all your old sins from last year, and start off with a dip. Like a baptism kind of thing for the new year.”
Arnie Ross, 84, was first in the water for his 23rd annual dip.
“When you jump the first time, all your friends and everybody that knows them they say have you got enough ego to do it the second time? And I say yes,” he said.
Temperatures in the Halifax area hovered around 1 C Tuesday.
“Coming up the ladder, sometimes it’s 15 or 20 feet or something,” said Ross. “I go up fast because the wind and the temperature — and today with the rain and the snow — maybe it’s really cold. So I come up, put my snowsuit on and get all bundled up and wait for the next year.”