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Record number takes to the icy water on New Year’s Day

Event sponsor offered Dutch pea soup

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHEVENINGEN - A record number of people took to the freezing cold water for a boisterous but also shivering New Year’s Dip, no doubt cheered on by numerous television viewers across the Netherlands from their comfortable chairs at home. Across the Netherlands, 27,000 diehards braved the freezing temperatures, including about 10,000 who ran into the North Sea at Scheveningen wearing orange woolly hats and gloves handed out by national event sponsor Unox. The rookworst producer also treated participants to hot chocolate and a bowl of Dutch pea soup (snert).

About a dozen other smaller such events were cancelled over concerns the dippers could cut themselves on the ice which in some places was also too thick to safely accommodate a dip.

The New Year's celebrations were less unruly than previous years, but still claimed new victims when two teenagers died in accidents with illegal fireworks.

During the celebrations, police arrested 1,253 unruly individuals, of whom about 600 will face swift justice and higher than usual fines as part of the government's zero tolerance policy. In spite of the 20 percent increase in the number of arrests, fewer people are being prosecuted than last year.

Dutch security Minister Fred Teeven, a former prosecutor, spent New Year’s Eve on patrol with a police unit. He was shocked by the number of bonfires on crossroads and tram rails.