Everyone has their New Year’s traditions whether it’s eating sauerkraut or leaving your shoes outside, but six men ring in the new year by taking a celebratory dive underwater.
One of the divers, David Light, says, “Well doesn’t everybody do something a little special on New Year’s Day?”
For the last couple of decades, a group of professional divers celebrate the new year by doing one of their favorite things. “This is something that I really enjoy doing so why not start the new year off right,” says Light.
Ted Velas, Owner of T.L. Velas Diving and Supply, organizes the event every year, he chose the lake at Friendship Park in Jefferson County for 2019’s inaugural dive. “This is a really nice local lake to come to. There’s usually pretty good visibility under the water,” says Velas.
This year, the water was measured to be between 43-47 degrees. One of the divers, Frank Borsuk said this year was warmer compared to other years, and he’s not even cold in the water! “We have dry suits on with fleece underneath. Only our faces got cold.”
They say it’s all worth it because it’s a completely different point of view. “Once you get underwater, it’s a whole different world. You’re only down there for a few minutes, so you only get to look at it for a few minutes, so it just kind of makes it really special,” says Light.
Because this is a man-made lake, there’s a mud-covered road and much more underneath the 50 foot deep water. “There is a bridge. There are fence lines. You can find fence posts, some of them actually have some wire left on them,” says Velas.
But one of the best parts is finding the little treasures hidden underneath. Borsuk says, “Bottles, cans, golf balls. At Heritage Port, we find bicycles and safes.”
They were not able to have the event at Heritage Port in the past few years due to the Ohio River being too high.