Surf City Beach Access looked more like Halloween night than the first day of January at the city’s annual Dolphin Dip Sunday morning.

Children and adults dressed as the Easter Bunny, a chicken, Dorothy and the scarecrow from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” crowded in the area waiting for the costume contests and the sprint into the Atlantic Ocean.

Life-like dinosaurs, belly dancers, and acrobats entertained the crowd and even characters like Minnie Mouse and a chicken joined in on the belly dance.

Some families had made Dolphin Dip into a family tradition, while others were trying it for the first time.

“We saw the ending of it last year,” Tammy Campbell, of Goldsboro, said. “We just bought a place here and we came down and said, ‘what’s the big deal?’ and that’s when we found out (about it).”

With 55 degree weather along the shore, her husband, Scott, said the weather wasn’t too bad.

“The sun’s even trying to come out,” Tammy chimed in. Following their dip, they planned to warm up with towels they’d stashed in their vehicle.

Nicole Daone and her four-year-old son, Dominick, were visiting her parents in Hampstead when they happened upon the Dolphin Dip Facebook event.

“I thought it would be fun, different,” she said. “Why not?”

The greatest part about the Dolphin Dip, she said, was starting off the New Year being a little uncomfortable and then coasting through the rest of the year. They too planned to warm up afterward with towels — and hugs.

The crowd, clad in bikinis and swim trunks, rushed into the water in one big wave following the sound of a gunshot. Some were in for mere seconds, although others toughed it out for more than five minutes.

“I’ve done (the Dolphin Dip) for 13 years,” Larry Rice said. “I do it every year.”

The best part?

“The camaraderie and just the start to a new fresh year,” he said.

Like Rice, the Sandlins have been doing the Dolphin Dip for years.

“We know exactly where to park and we can come down and do our plunge,” Elizabeth Sandlin, of Hampstead, said. “This is (our five-year-old’s) first one going all the way in, but we’ve done it every year.”

Their older children, Russell Sandlin said, love to take the plunge.

First-timer Braeden Pharo, 14, shivered as he said his favorite part.

“I don’t know. Getting out,” he said.

Even founder Brian Moxey took the dip in a blue sequined blazer.

“It was an awesome event,” he said, adding that they had a record crowd. “The weather held out. It’s a lot of fun.”

The best part for him, he said, was going in the water.

Surf City officials estimated 2,300 in attendance of the event and 500-600 who went in the water.