Bernie Delinski

I celebrated New Year's Day with a walk in the park, and it was quite a challenge.

Allow me to explain: The park was McFarland Park and the walk was down a boat ramp into the cold, cold Tennessee River.

That's right: I did the "Plunge into the New Year" this year!

Yep, I plunged straight into the water and resurfaced.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "This story brought me a lot of joy — and then you resurfaced."

Starting off the New Year with the same old smart aleckness, are you?

But I know what else you're thinking. You're thinking, "Just watch: this nimrod is going to talk about how amazing he thinks he is for doing the plunge."

Well, enough about you — let's talk about how amazing I am for doing the plunge.

Here's how it went:

The sea was angry that day, my friends.

I know, that's a George Costanza quote from "Seinfeld." However, it's rather fitting that I quote George because, well, let's just say I now fully appreciate what he went through when swimming in the cold water in another episode.

Be that as it may, I've always secretly envied people who do New Year's plunges, but never so much as to join them. That changed thanks to this one because it is operated by some wonderful people, and is designed to help promote the cause of suicide awareness.

So in I went.

And moments later, out I went.

You've got to understand. You know that guy who gingerly eases into the swimming pool on a 100-degree day because it's "too cold."

Yeah, I'm that guy.

So this was a big move. I figured the best way to do it would be to just keep walking and pretend I'm not really cold. And that worked really well.

Up to my ankles.

Then it was really cold.

But I trudged forward and eventually was all the way in. It was cold. I actually had trouble breathing from the shock to the system.

But here's the crazy part — I mean besides the fact that I spent a winter day swimming in the Tennessee River — as I looked around me, everyone was laughing, giving high-fives and hugging. It actually was — I can't believe I'm saying this — fun.

I felt really great about myself for getting in there and getting out. That is until I later stood on the bank and looked out and saw a brave person swimming around and going underwater time and again.

I mean that was one tough 6-year-old girl!

Anyway, now I have a full year to get up the nerve to do it again. Feel free to join us next time when we'll ring in an entire new decade. You don't even have to go in. There were swarms of people there just to cheer us on.

So come on out and join us. It's fun and for a wonderful cause.

One other thing. I hope none of you ever need this number, but if you do here it is:

1-800-273-8255. That's the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. As plunge organizer Josh Miles put it as well before we all jumped in, "If nobody has told you they love you today, know that I love you."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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