Coney Island Mermaid Parade Hauls Out the Happier New York
New Yorkers can be a bit of an isolated bunch—if not individually, then within whatever demographic/income/snootiness bracket they may fall into—but all that gets swiftly defenestrated at the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. In its thirty-fourth year, the Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 18 assembled the hipsters and homeless, the eccentric and ecclesiastical, the yuppies and young parents, for a neighborly riot by the seaside.
The Mermaid Parade, which despite its name runs down Atlantic Avenue rather than Mermaid Avenue (the Atlantic Parade just doesn’t have that same je ne sais quoi, plus restricts costume ideas to Christopher Columbus and the anthropomorphic personification of NATO), is an annual celebration for no good reason other than it’s summer and we’re celebrating. Also, fish.
The crowds were thick, sweaty, and scantily-clad, and making it through the subway-station press gave parade-goers their first Herculean Challenge before being able to partake of the parade’s many delights. Amidst the sweaty throng, parade-goer Akash Gupta summarized his incentive for wading through the morass: “Why did we come to the Mermaid Parade? Is there really an explanation needed for that?”
Added comrade Mike Gerson, “Because there’s a Mermaid Parade.”
Costumes were plentiful both on the course and off. Nearly half of the New Yorkers crowding the parade’s sidelines under an increasingly sunny sky had kitted up in their own renditions on the theme of mermaid, pirate, ambiguous sea creature, and in at least one case, ambulatory Skull Island (of King Kong fame).
Those strolling down the main parade avenue presented an even more psychedelic array. While some stuck with the tried-and-true maximum-cleavage shells-and-sarong combo (some forewent the shells, even), others ventured into worlds previously only inhabited by Tim Burton.
Events like the Mermaid Parade remind you that even the biggest of cities is still a neighborhood, at times. Brooklyn local Lawrence Floyd, a font of enthusiastic cheering in the throng beneath Coney Island Park’s notorious Cyclone rollercoaster, declared himself “A big fan… it’s the mermaids, the total atmosphere. I wish them all well, and a good life.”
The festivities rolled into the sweltering afternoon, with throngs descending on the beach and local bars after the parade petered out. Summer has kicked in. Bring your mermaid shoes.
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