Aw, come on, it's just a little dip in the Atlantic Ocean!

Start the new year right with the 15th annual Tybee Polar Plunge, set for Jan. 1 at the Tybee beach, pier and pavilion.

"This is going to be a big one," says Melissa Turner, executive director of the Tybee Post Theater. "We're expecting more than 1,000 people and hopefully a dozen to two dozen Gangs of Goofs."

The Gang of Goofs parade and contest has been a success since its introduction a few years ago.

"It's where you get a group of crazy friends who give themselves a theme and dress up in costume to fit that theme and parade in front of a group of judges," Turner says. "We give them some great prizes."

The Gang of Goofs competition starts at 11 a.m., followed by the Polar Plunge at noon.

"The whole Gang of Goofs concept really personifies Tybee," Turner says. "It's a little offbeat and adds to the fun.

"Last year, our winning gang was the Tybee Calendar Girls - 12 women all dressed in costumes that represented different months of the year. Each carried a sign that said what month they were.

"It was very ingenious," she says. "They even produced a calendar and sold it afterward."

Coming in second place were the Tybeelicious Girls.

"It was three guys dressed in pink flowery gowns, looking like sex symbols," Turner says. "Third place was the Tybee Inmateys, who were dressed up in black-and-white-striped prison garb."

The Tybee Polar Plunge is unique in that it's a Guinness Book of World Records title holder.

"Guinness was a huge deal," Turner says. "That was back in 2012. It was official; we're in the book.

"It was the largest gathering of people wearing swim caps. The Guinness staff was on hand with clickers to count everybody.

"Our goal now is to top that," she says. "Tybee's is the only polar plunge in the Guinness Book of World Records."

On that historic day, there were about 2,000 people who participated.

"They came from at least a dozen different states," Turner says. "The majority of the Gangs of Goofs are not from Tybee or Savannah, but other places.

"People have heard about it and come back year after year with a different costume contest entry," she says. "A lot of folks come down from Atlanta."

While the outcome of the plunge is a good time, it has a real purpose: To raise money for the Tybee Post Theater, now in the final stages of restoration.

"The cost to participate admits them to all the festivities on the pier and pavilion before the plunge," Turner says. "And they get a great long-sleeved T-shirt, which is light blue this year."

A plunge in Southeast Georgia is much nicer than one in Minnesota. Usually.

"You never can tell what the weather will be like," Turner says. "Last year, it was damp and in the low 60s.

"The year before that, it was 70 degrees outside. You've got to take into consideration there are polar plunges all throughout the United States, most in the North.

"This is the only one in the Southeast, so it will have beautiful, balmy temperatures," she says. "It's really a better one than say Bangor, Maine."

Participants can register online or on site beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the plunge.

"We set up a table at the roundabout at the foot of the pier," Turner says. "We're there every afternoon on Dec. 27, 28, 29 and 30.

"We're there until 9 p.m. on Dec. 31," she says. "We do have a madhouse if everyone waits to register at the last minute."

Tybee Post Theater members will get a discount.

"All proceeds go to benefit the Tybee Post Theater, which is going to open next year," Turner says. "It's an exciting time for us.

"This is a perfect way to spend New Year's Day. Go plunge in the ocean, go cleanse your soul.

"I've done it twice, including the Guiness Book challenge. Now I have to run the thing, but what's really fun is watching everyone who shows up.

"They love it!" she says, "You get down in the crowd and they blow the horn and it's just fun. Come out for the fireworks on New Year's Eve and stay for the plunge."