Just as last year, the 2017 Iche Nippy Dip Day dawned gray and rainy, but the difference this year is that the air was cold. But yes, the faithful did come out in greater numbers than ever and spirits were high.
Sponsored by the Florida State Park system, this was the 4th annual event, now an established tradition which is growing each year. Again, OSFR was well represented by brave souls who participated in the ritual.
Friends of the Ichetucknee were present and accepted donations and memberships for their fine organization.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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Iche Nippy Dip Day brings out 100 who want to make a cold splash
Posted Jan 7, 2017 at 4:09 PM Updated Jan 7, 2017 at 4:10 PM
On Saturday, swimmers jumped into the headspring at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. They emerged from a quick dip or a leisurely swim feeling refreshed but a bit shivery.
By Cindy Swirko
The usual drill is to jump in the water at Ichetucknee Springs State Park on a sweltering summer day and revel in the bracing chill.
On Saturday, swimmers jumped into the headspring and embraced the warmth.
Friends of Ichetucknee Springs State Park, the citizen support group, held its fourth annual Iche Nippy Dip Day and at least 100 participants from across Florida took the plunge.
They emerged from a quick dip or a leisurely swim feeling refreshed but a bit shivery – the water stays at about 72 degrees but the air temperature Saturday morning was in the mid-to-upper 40s with a breeze and heavy cloud cover.
Starting at 10 a.m., participants went into the spring in shifts every hour. That eliminated the mad rush that used to happen when the event was first held, Robinson said.
“(The dip) is free with park admission and then the Friends encourages people to become members. You get a pass for 12 free visits when you become a member. It helps with park projects and improvements,” Robinson said. “We do it in shifts. In the past there was a rush and too many people at once. At other dipping events, that’s how they do it.”
Bathrobes in all colors and patterns were not uncommon. The robes could quickly be taken off before going in the spring and just as quickly provide some protection from the cold when the participant got out.
A few people wore colorful outfits including one man in rainbow long johns. However, most wore standard bathing suits. And no one could be seen taking the easy way in by wearing a wetsuit.
Park Manager Bob Sunderholm, who is fairly new to Ichetucknee, experienced his first Nippy Dip Saturday – from the land.
“It’s impressive,” Sunderholm said. “It helps drive visitation during off-season. This is my first year and now that I’ve seen it, we’ll try to build on it and make it bigger.”
The park is in southern Columbia County and the event is held at the headspring at the north entrance, not at the main park area on U.S. 27.
Angel Hall is such a fan of the Nippy Dip that she comes from Daytona Beach.
Hall belongs to a Facebook group called Spring Hunters and joined other members at Ichetucknee.
“It’s fun. This is my third year. I love it,” Hall said.