Published: Jan 01, 2013 6:20 PM EST

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla.- More than 300 people plunged into the new year on Sanibel Island at the annual Polar Bear Plunge.

People gathered at Tarpon Bay Beach for the 13th annual event.

Participants say it is a fun way to bring the community together to welcome the new year.

"It's the most fun you can have on Sanibel for free," says Tom Giles, one of the organizers.

Vroegin Dewey is a five-year veteran of the event. He says, "it cleanses our souls, it washes away the bad feelings and gives us a brand new slate to state with." He enjoys seeing old friends and making new ones at the event. "It's just a fun, funky crazy thing to do New Year's Day."

The water was about 65 degrees. A little chilly for the polar bears, but nothing compared to similar events up north.

Molly Lassy says it is the most exciting thing to do on Sanibel Island.  "This water was fabulous, a little chill in the beginning, took the breath away a little, but when you get used to it, its gorgeous."

Everyone who took the plunge received a certificate for participation.

People from all over the world took the plunge on Sanibel. Fort Myers Beach and Naples held similar events.