Atlantic Beach’s popular Penguin Plunge going virtual

Participants in a pas Atlantic Beach Penguin Plunge brave the cold sea. This year's event will be virtual. (News-Times photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — The Penguin Plunge at Atlantic Beach will bring in the new year with a virtual event for its 18th annual iteration.

Many people who participate in the annual event have created family traditions and travel to Atlantic Beach from far and wide to join hundreds of other dedicated “penguins” as they plunge into the chilly Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 1.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, Penguin Plunge co-founder Miriam Sutton acknowledges, “This past year has been quite unique and challenging for all of us, and the Penguin Plunge Board of Directors is dedicated to providing a safe event for all the Penguins who wish to participate in the 2021 Penguin Plunge.”

The Center for Disease Control has issued warnings that mass gatherings create a high-risk environment for the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In an effort to reduce that risk and still provide “loyal penguins” an opportunity to put the year 2020 behind them and aspire toward a better year ahead in 2021, the board unanimously decided to promote Penguin Plunge 2021 as a virtual event, while Hope Mission of Carteret County has been selected as the charity.

According to Penguin Plunge board member Jerry Sink, “Hope Mission serves the Carteret County community by providing food, shelter, emergency financial assistance and other means of support, and the demands on the organization have been elevated during the pandemic.”

Pastor Gene McLendon, executive director for Hope Mission Ministries added, “What a great community. They do the Penguin Plunge year after year and people keep coming back in their swimsuits to run out into the ocean. I think it is people saying we come together to give back to our community, to those in need, to the least fortunate.”

 The Hope Mission family is thankful to all the participants who plan to participate in this year’s virtual Penguin Plunge.

Ms. Sutton noted four simple steps were required to participate in Penguin Plunge 2021: 1) Register online at; 2) Find a friend and a safe body of water that can be entered and exited safely; 3) Complete your Virtual Penguin Plunge on Jan. 1, 2021; and 4) Post photos/videos to social media using #penguinplungeab2021.

Penguin Plunge participants are asked to donate a minimum of $10 ($5 for children 12 and under) to participate in the event. A $25 donation includes an event T-shirt, and a $40 donation includes a sweatshirt.

All merchandise will be shipped. Organizers would like to remind participants to be in good health before participating in the Penguin Plunge.

For more information and latest updates about the 2021 Penguin Plunge, visit or follow the “Penguin Plunge” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. More information about Hope Mission of Carteret County can be found on the website:

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