It’s a Florida thing: Locals start 2019 by dressing up, running into Gulf of Mexico for charity

At the annual Shamrock Shiver charity event on Anna Maria Island, nothing can put a damper on giving — not even the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Dozens of people gathered in the sands of Bradenton Beach on a warm New Year’s Day to participate in the group plunge that benefits local charities.

Organized by Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub in Cortez, the event runs purely on volunteer power and raises thousands of dollars for local charities that help children in need. In its first 10 years, the event raised over $219,000.

Participants started showing up around 11 a.m. for photos and a costume contest, dotting the beach with colorful outfits.

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Ryan Ballogg

Mingled in the group were pirates, dalmatians, a Santa Claus and a whole group dressed as the red-and-white-striped namesake of “Where’s Waldo?”

At noon, the plunge commenced and nearly 100 people rushed into the Gulf of Mexico, costumes and all.

Ryan Ballogg

A man wearing a sea turtle float was the last to enter the surf as he dragged his plastic flippers through the sand.

The fundraising goal for the 2019 event was bumped up to $25,000 after the success of past years. After the plunge, volunteer organizer Liza Gorin said she thinks they will make this year’s goal.

“The best thing about it is that truly 100 percent of the proceeds go to charities,” Gorin said. “And they are small charities that rely on local donations.”

The proceeds go to Caring for Children Charities, a fundraising arm of Sarasota non-profit Florida Winefest and Auction, which distributes the funds each year through grants.

Gorin said recipients of the grant money pay it forward by participating and promoting the next time around.

“It’s giving that keeps on giving,” Gorin said.

Linda Jo Klapperich and her daughter, Angelina Klapperich, were visiting for the holidays and came out for the plunge.

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Ryan Ballogg

Both were dressed as cows, a reference to Linda Jo’s Wisconsin roots.

Linda Jo formerly taught at Manatee High School. At her new school in Alaska, the cow suit is one of her classroom props.

“Who’s in the moo-ood for reading?” Klapperich says she often asks her students.

It was the Klapperichs’ third year participating in the event.

Another costume that drew a lot of attention from spectators was Ron Stout’s personification of red tide.

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Ryan Ballogg

The phenomenon has affected Manatee County waters for months and started to clear up just weeks before the Shamrock Shiver.

“It’s symbolic,” Stout said of his costume. “I wanted to send the red tide to the deepest reaches of the Gulf, never to return.”

After the plunge, participants and spectators headed over to Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub in Cortez for an after party and more fundraising.

Food and drink were available for donations and items were raffled off throughout the day as people danced to live music.

The money raised will benefit groups like Children First, Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, Hope Family Services and The ManaTeen Club and many others that directly impact the communities of Manatee County.