As they chanted “ham hock,” 18 friends clad in purple bow ties and black bikinis readied themselves to run full bore into the frigid waters of the Boulder Reservoir.  

While some people chose to stay in and greet the new year with bleary eyes, bowl games or black-eyed peas, Team Ham Hock and hundreds of others on Tuesday started 2013 with a plunge. 

“Nothing cures a hangover better than a Bloody Mary and a polar plunge,” said Laura Koenig, 21, after she and her jovial buddies jumped into the reservoir, touched the tip of the ice and quickly sprinted to the heating tents.

Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of Boulder's Polar Plunge.

Members and friends of CU’s rugby team run out of the water during the 30th annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge at the Boulder Reservoir Tuesday
Members and friends of CU's rugby team run out of the water during the 30th annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge at the Boulder Reservoir Tuesday Jan. 01, 2013. (Lewis Geyer/Times-Call) (LEWIS GEYER)
The event that serves as a benefit for the Young Professionals Alzheimer's Association of Colorado lured nearly 500 people to the 37-degree waters of the Boulder Reservoir.   

The plunge is the largest fundraising event for the organization, said Erin Pursel, a YPAAC spokeswoman. 

Last year, the nonprofit organization raised $35,000, a number that officials hoped to match. This year's event brought in just over $24,000. 

“There's a plunge in Longmont (this year),” she said, noting a private event. “We're thinking that has pulled some of our plungers today.” 

The Boulder plunge, however, still drew a sizable crowd filled with scores of costume-laden participants, creating an atmosphere that rivaled a "Let's Make A Deal" taping. 

Donning respective powder blue and bright orange tuxedo costumes and top hats, Kayla and Andrew Barnes drove from Cheyenne, Wyo., to knock the polar plunge off their bucket lists.

The “Dumb & Dumber” outfits were fitting for the event and the plan of immersing themselves in the icy waters, Kayla Barnes said. 

“That's why I dressed this way; I got to be dumb,” she said.

This year marked the 11th consecutive plunge for Fort Collins resident Matt Yakab. The 56-year-old said the tradition helps to keep things in perspective.

“Sometimes you get to feeling big and bad about yourself and this slaps you in the face with a little humility,” he said.