By Don Ford

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — It’s tradition that’s as durable as it is inexplicable: seemingly sane people jumping into frigid water on New Year’s Day.

At the stroke of noon, dozens of people gathered by the pounding surf at Ocean Beach in San Francisco where the water temperature was 52 degrees Fahrenheit to take the annual Polar Plunge.

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Marty Farrell-Araque, age 65, was among them.

“This year I got a new hip and it just looks like the thing to do to come out to celebrate 2021 because 2020 was horrible,” he said.

A quick kiss from his wife and he was off and into the surf which quickly knocked him off balance and onto his bottom. With a little help from his friends he was back up again, all smiles. “You know, I kinda freaked just a little bit”, he said.

Joe Houston says he loves the cold water and is washing away all memories of 2020. “A New Year and I’m super excited! I’m pumped! … And it’s cold!”

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Nats [How do you say Happy New Year in Russian?] “Nò-Vym Gò-Dam”

Farther down the strand, Dan Kobzey, from Moscow and Anna Rotris, from Siberia took in the seaside fun with tolerant smiles.

Kobzey explained how his countrymen take the plunge in a place where there’s real winter weather.

“The river is frozen, they make a hole … dive in the water three times … Yeah!”

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Incidentally, there’s a high surf advisory making the beach even more hazardous (in case you needed an excuse).