The Coney Island Polar Bear Club swims every Sunday from November to April, but their first swim of the new year, on New Year's Day, is a special one. Non-members can register to swim, and the money raised from registration goes to Camp Sunshine, a program for children with life-threatening illnesses. This year's relatively warm temperatures (nearly 50 degrees!) saw a surge in participants, with around 2500 people braving the still very cold waters of the Atlantic this afternoon, some in costume, some in bathing suits, and some in their clothes. Check out our pictures in the gallery above.

photos by Amanda Hatfield