Locals do the Destin Dunk out of tradition and more

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With a lingering fog and temperatures in the low 70s on New Year’s Day, nearly 75 people showed up for the 18th annual Destin Dunk behind The Back Porch Seafood and Oyster House.

"It’s just tradition,” said Destin’s Charlie Noonan, who showed up with a bowl of black-eyed peas to share with others for good luck.

Nearly 75 people came out for the 18th annual Destin Dunk on New Year's Day behind The Back Porch.

Folks started to gather on the beach 30 to 40 minutes before they took off running into the Gulf of Mexico. People were socializing and catching up, picking up a T-shirt to commemorate the event as well as making donations to the local nonprofits. The Destin Dunk benefits the Destin History and Fishing Museum as well as the Destin Harvest House. 

Some didn't mind the water at all on Sunday at the Destin Dunk and got all in for the event.

This year, the event raised a little more than $1,000 for the nonprofits, according to event organizer Muri Kersanac. 

This was Noonan’s sixth year to do the dunk. 

“I like it when it’s warm like this,” Noonan said. 

Charlie Noonan, left, serves a friend some of his black-eyed peas at the Destin Dunk.

“Most of them are when it’s like 40 degrees outside. We got lucky today,” he added. 

"This is nothing,” Stefan Halushka said of the weather Sunday morning. 

From 2019Annual Polar Plunge

“I have pictures of me in pain coming out of the water” from years past, Halushka said. 

Halushka of Destin has been doing the dunk since its inception 18 years ago. 

Nearly 75 people came out for the 18th annual Destin Dunk  on New Year's Day.

“If I don’t do it, I feel weird. It’s like a cleansing … a washing off of the old and getting ready for the new,” he said.

Halushka does the event with several of his rugby buddies. 

From 2020Taking the plunge for juniors

“This is our tribe,” he said, looking around at the dozen or so guys before they got ready to hit the water. 

The Destin Dunk started 18 years ago with Tim Kersanac and about four of his buddies that still show up every year. 

Nearly 75 people came out for the 18th annual Destin Dunk  on New Year's Day.

To add a little fun to the dunk, the people are challenged to run in the water with an unopened drink, chug it and then run out of the water. First place wins a prize. 

Destin’s Chad Wandrick, sporting his cowboy hat, was first out of the water. 

From 2022Locals do the 'Destin Dunk' on New Year's Day

“I’ve never been a fan of cold water,” Wandrick said, noting it doesn’t take him long to chug a drink either. He has won the event the past six or seven years. 

Alina Mazurk, 9, of Atlanta was the first youth out of the water at the Destin Dunk on Sunday.

As for the first youth out of the water, Alina Mazurk, 9, who was visiting from Atlanta, was first out. 

“It was my first time … it was fun,” she said hanging on to her towel. 

When asked if she would do it again, Mazurk gave a quick “yes.”