The legendary Phoenix may purge itself in fire to begin anew, but there is no need to be so dramatic. A brisk dip in the Atlantic Ocean works just as well to start the New Year right.

The 2018 Tybee Polar Plunge offers a fun opportunity for friends and families to take the icy challenge, with proceeds going to support the beloved Tybee Post Theater.

Thousands of participants are expected to take the mad dash into the water Jan. 1. The popular event kicks off with the Gang of Goofs costume contest and parade at 11 a.m. Groups of three or more will dress in their wildest, funniest costumes and parade in front of "an esteemed panel of judges." The winning team will earn the prestigious Le Gang of Goofs trophy, which will be displayed in a location of their choice for the rest of the year.

A notable year for the Tybee Polar Plunge was 2012, when the event was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the "largest gathering of people wearing swim caps." A whopping 2,049 out of 2,400 people wore swim caps for the plunge. It should be noted that since then, the record has been broken. According to Guinness, the Ying Wa family in Hong Kong topped the record with 2,584 in 2017, so it seems the gauntlet has been laid down. All the more reason to turn out for this potentially record-breaking event.

Registration for the Polar Plunge and Gang of Goofs parade is $25 for adults and $15 for kids under 12, but it comes with an exclusive 2018 Tybee Polar Plunge long-sleeve T-shirt. Kids will delight in seeing Posty the Tybee Island Polar Bear paddle boarding and getting the crowd pumped up.

The historic Tybee Post Theater, which organizes the Tybee Polar Plunge, was built in 1930 as a movie house for soldiers in the Army, but was shut down in the 1960s. In 2015, thanks to the efforts of several Tybee nonprofits, the theater was restored and now hosts cultural events such as movies, plays and concerts. The Tybee Polar Plunge helps raise money to keep the operation running.

Polar Bear Plunges take place all over the world, including the Loony Dook in Scotland and the Nieuwjaarsduik in The Netherlands. Many plungers around the world will be plodding through snow in their bikinis as they rush for the frigid water.

Tybee can count its blessings that the weather on New Year's Day is expected to be a balmy 50 degrees, with water temperatures of 48 degrees. Plunging into chilly water is an exhilarating experience that will ensure fortitude and an adventurous spirit in 2018.


What: Tybee Polar Plunge

When: Jan. 1; 11 a.m. Gang of Goofs costume contest, noon Polar Plunge

Where: Tybee Island Pier & Pavilion

Cost: $25 adults, $15 kids younger than 12