The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a mixture between Mardi Gras and mermaids.
The tradition of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade began in 1983, when the first event of this kind was conceptualized and organized by Dick Zigun, who is sometimes dubbed the “Mayor of Coney Island”, and who was the founder of the non-profit arts group Coney Island USA. The Mermaid Parade is held in celebration of the beginning of the summer season, and so it traditionally takes place on the Saturday closest to the calendar start of summer, regardless of the weather.
The Mermaid parade is well-known for extraordinary costumes, and for the occasional partial nudity. (it is legal in New York State for women to be topless in public, except as part of a business venture.) There was much more nudity than I would have thought. Many girls and cross dressers wore tight skirts or some kind of bottom with nothing on top except pasties at the most.
The parade is somehow considered a family event and many little girls were dressed like the little mermaid or other princesses/mermaids. There are sections in the parade for vehicles of all kinds, for floats, for groups, and for individuals. Mermaids and sea creatures of every shape and size are represented, and the audience is festive and appreciative. There are judges who walk around and pick their favorites and the winners.
Each year the Mermaid Parade features a merman and mermaid King and Queen. This years the king was Adam Richman from the Travel Channel’s Man V. Food ( I met him and he wasn’t nice at all) and Queen Mermaid was Cat GreenLeaf from television show Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf!
This was my first Mermaid Parade and I had a blast! I did not get to go on the float this year (my company was in the parade) because all of the interns decided to stay at the store and help out there. I sold a lot of merchandise and drank a lot of free beer! It was a great time and I am looking forward to next years, maybe I will dress up…