You’d think it’d be difficult to find anyone willing to jump in the ocean in January after a night of hard partying, but every year thousands of people do just that. The Polar Plunges — both on Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach — draw thousands of people who want to start the year off fresh with a frigid salt-water baptism.

The Dunleavy’s Pub Polar Plunge on Sullivan’s Island kicks off with a pre-party on Middle Street in front of the pub at 11 a.m. The plunge itself happens at 1 p.m., and the party will continue throughout the day on Middle Street. The Folly Beach plunge, hosted by Snapper Jack’s, will be at the second block of the beach at noon.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your plunge.

1. Arrive early. Parking will be a nightmare and you’ll have to walk a lot farther than you want to (unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a house nearby). And there’s nothing more depressing than showing up after everyone’s already made the plunge and having to go it alone. It’s just not the same.

2. Drink. Pre-gaming will numb your body and your nerves enough to give you the courage to jump in the water. You might need a little hair of the dog to help from New Year’s Eve, anyway. Booze isn’t allowed on the beach at Sullivan’s, but you should be able to find plenty of beer and mimosas at Dunleavy’s pre-party.

3. Dress up… One of the best parts of this event is people-watching, and the people who wear costumes are the best. You’ll also be a lot more likely to get on the news if you’re dressed like a superhero. Some past favorites have included zombies, Octomom (remember her?), and a real-life bride and groom who shared their vows before jumping in the water.

4. …But bring something warm to change in to. You never know if the weather will be mild on New Year’s, but anyone would feel cold walking around in a soaking wet tux on a windy beach. Bring a beach towel, a blanket, and if you plan on partying afterward, a change of clothes.

5. Bring a flag. If you’re going with a big group of friends, you’ll need help finding each other post-plunge, because chances are you’ll lose sight of each other in the fray. Plan a rendezvous point ahead of time, or hoist a unique flag to mark your meeting spot.

6. Give back. It doesn’t cost any money to plunge, but the Sullivan’s Island plunge is a fundraiser for a worthy cause, so consider a donation to the Special Olympics. You can do it on the website or at the event.

Want a peek at what’s in store? Check out our slideshows from past events here and here.

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