Traditional Tiber River Dive Welcomes New Year in Rome

Thu, 01/02/2014 - 06:32

As every New Year’s Day since 1996, Mister Ok, a.k.a. Maurizio Palmulli, jumped on Wednesday into Rome’s Tiber river from the Cavour bridge, for the enjoyment of onlookers who cheered enthusiastically. The lifeguard from Ostia was wearing a red swimsuit as a well wishes sign.

"We perform this dive, this plunge into the Tiber in order to give the Romans and people around Italy our wishes of a happy and calm 2014. That is the purpose of this tradition that was taught to us and passed on to us by the elder divers and which we are now passing on to others. It is a tradition that is dedicated to Rome and a New Year greeting to all the Roman people," said 62-year-old Palmulli.

He was not alone as other Italian divers joined him in making the jump into the icy river.

The tradition of jumping into the river on New Year’s Day, which was also captured in Paolo Sorrentino’s movie “The Great Beauty,” dates back to 1946. It was started by an unemployed lifeguard who was trying to find work as a stunt man and decided to jump into the waters from the bridge to advertise his skills.

A similar event took place in Florence, where brave divers from the Canottieri Firenze association, dived into a freezing Arno.

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