In Pictures: Thousands Brave Atlantic on New Year's Day 2019 in 115th Coney Island Polar Bear Club Plunge

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People jump into the Atlantic Ocean during the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day in Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Thousands of people kickstarted their 2019 by going for a swim in the Atlantic on New Year's Day during the 115th annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club Plunge.

The club, which is the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States, swims in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from November through April. Since 1903, they have also been hosting a public New Year’s Day Plunge open to anyone who wants a New Year they'll remember.

This year's event saw a high turnout, no doubt boosted by the unseasonably mild weather conditions. The temperature on New Year's Day 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City was in the high 50s, which is positively balmy compared to 2018's 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ocean was still very cold, however, and some poor souls managed just a couple of seconds before running back to the relative warmth of the sand. Some hardier folks stayed long enough to take part in an impromptu volleyball game, according to local community news site Brooklyn Vegan. 

This year's event has so far managed to raise over $50,000 to support local organisations such as the New York Aquarium and Alliance for Coney Island, which aims to support local communities as they continue to recover from the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy six years ago. The target is $80,000, and the donations site is still open

These photos show people taking part in the 2019 Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge and going for a swim in the Atlantic on New Year's Day wearing bathing suits, Santa suits, wacky costumes, or just their clothes. Here's to 2020.

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Some tried to avoid the inevitable by jumping over the waves... Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
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...and some donned costumes and Santa hats in a misguided effort to stay warm... Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
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...but when the cold ocean hit home, it came as a bit of shock. Don Emmert/AFP
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The mascot of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club walks the boardwalk before the start of the club's annual New Year's plunge. Don Emmert/AFP
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Many participants donned costumes, dressing as Elvis Presley... Don Emmert/AFP
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...Mexican wrestlers... Don Emmert/AFP
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...and mythical balloon creatures(?). Don Emmert/AFP
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A person dressed as a polar bear leads the first procession into the Atlantic Ocean. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
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Hundreds of swimmers run into the water to take part in the annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day Plunge. Don Emmert/AFP
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Those Mexican wrestlers take the plunge... Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
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...as do the mythical balloon creatures(?). Stephanie Keith/Getty Images