STAR Wars Stormtroopers, video game characters Mario and Luigi, superheroes, Scottish warriors and even the Very Hungry Caterpillar took the plunge in Sunderland’s Boxing Day Dip.
Every year, hundreds of people brave the icy waters off Seaburn to raise thousands of pounds for a host of worthy causes.
And this year was no different, with more than 600 people entering the water, cheered on by hundreds more on the beach and promenade.
“We had 663 officially – though I think there were more than that in the parade – and we have raised £58,000,” said Anne Fielding, of organisers Sunderland Lions.
“And there were loads of people out on the beach and promenade. I heard one dipper say, ‘I never thought this many people would come to see us’.
“We are very grateful to the contractors working on the seafront and to the city council, who have kept in touch with us since October to reassure us we could have a dip this year.” Many dippers take part year after year, but 2014 marks the last time for fund-raiser Julie Reay.
Julie has been raising cash for 12 years in memory of her 13-year-old son Peter Lane, who died in a ropeswing accident.
The dip has been a big part of the fund-raising efforts but now Julie has decided to call it a day, though other activities will continue.
“It was absolutely amazing,” she said.
“Obviously it was very emotional, with it being the last one.”
Julie hopes to raise £5,000, bringing the amount she has collected from ten years of dips to more than £30,000.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved over the years and I want to say thank you to my team and everyone who has supported us,” she said.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar appeared courtesy of Sunderland North Ranger Guides and was the brainchild of 17-year-old Molly Curle.
“It was one of my favourite books when I was little,” she said.
Molly and the team were hoping to raise around £400 for the British Heart Foundation.
Pals Andrew Blakemore and Ivan Jepson were taking part in the dip dressed as Laurel and Hardy – Andrew as Stan and Ivan as Ollie.
The dip marks the end of a busy year for the pair, who have raised around £8,000 money for WaterAid.
“We did a marathon, we’ve done a zip wire off Wearmouth Bridge, we’ve done the Great North Run, all dressed like this,” said Andrew.
“You feel a bit of an idiot signing up to do something like this,” said Ivan.
“Then you come down on the day and see there are thousands of people here and it just feels fantastic.”
Members of Sunderland Rugby Club had stripped to their waists and painted their faces blue as Highland warriors.
Among them was Dean Marshall, taking part in his 26th dip: “ I had an eight-year gap when I said I would never do it again but then I started again,” he said.
Darren Fucile was taking part in the dip in memory of son Joseph, who died aged just 16 months.
Darren and wife Janine set up a charity in his memory to buy toys and equipment for disabled youngsters.
“There is such a great atmosphere,” he said.
“It is a great day and it’s great for the city that we organise something like this.”