The North East Poppy Appeal was launched by a group of student dancers from Newcastle College, who performed a 'flash mob' underneath Grey's Monument in the city centre.
The impromptu performance ended with the performers putting up red and black umbrellas, which from above formed the shape of a poppy. Then thousands of petals were released from the top of the monument.
Watch the flash mob:
The show was watched by passers-by as well as those who turned out to show their support for the Royal British Legion.
The charity, which supports the armed forces and their families, is hoping to raise more than £1m in the North East this year from the sale of poppies.
Among those watching the show was Louise Holliday, who has received support from the legion.
Louise joined the RAF aged 17 but had to leave the service last year after a car crash left her seriously injured. She has two children, and said she would have "struggled" without help from the Royal British Legion.
"Leaving the RAF was like coming out of a bubble. It is really difficult," she said.
"I had financial problems trying to find a house, pay rent, or buy my daughter a new school uniform. It was the little things they did that really helped. They gave me vouchers for a new fridge and other things.
"And they were just there for moral support along the way."
Nationally, the Poppy Appeal has a target of £42m this year: an increase of £2m from last year.
However, in difficult economic times, the charity says any donation is fine, from a penny to a pound. What matters, it says, is that members of the public wear their poppy with pride.