The start of a new year can lead to many things: writing resolutions, forgetting distressing events of the last and looking forward to better times. Not many people would associate New Year’s Day with the chance to run into freezing water dressed in a dragon costume!
The Loony Dook, (loony being a colloquialism for lunatic and dook being the Scottish work for a dip), is a Scottish tradition that started in 1986 as a joke. Some locals thought jumping in the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth would be a great hangover cure. The following year they decided to repeat the event for charity. Now, in its 30th year, the Loony Dook has become a part of Edinburgh’s official Hogmanay celebrations.
Taking the plunge is the main event of the Loony Dook, but costumes are what makes diving in so special. The scene looks like the inside of a child’s overactive, imaginative brain. People were wearing all sorts - simple swimsuits, Loch Ness monster costumes, a man with a man-kini (if you don’t know what one is, trust me, you do not need to know), lots of animal onesies, and of course our intrepid Port Edgar Dragons dressed as Dragons!
We arrived in time to register and to get into our costumes before went to join the Costume Parade. Many admiring glances and wonderful comments were received from those watching. There were about 1000 participants and they came from all over the world, one particularly hearty Californian wearing no more than speedo’s and a California Republic flag!!
As we reached the dook point, we saw our Dragon supporters who buoyed our spirits as we headed into the North Sea. As the frigid waters touched our toes, and we started to submerge ourselves further in the freezing Forth, we couldn’t help but laugh at Catherine who looked like she was off for a swim not just a dook! Once we were in the water, it was surprising how quickly our numb limbs adapted and we started to splash about. Once the cold started to freeze our toes, we headed in to our wonderful supporters who carried towels and hot tea for us to dry off and warm up and headed off to Pauline Dragon who had provided us with a wonderful buffet and delicious hot soup.
A very special thank you goes out to Valerie, who was our pack dragon, for carrying our bags and took lots of pictures (see our facebook page for more) and to Pauline for the hearty sustenance and for opening her home for us to dry off and change into dry clothes when we were done and to all the Dragons who came out to support us despite the cold weather. We appreciate it very much.