Each June, half a million people descend on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue to witness the Mermaid Parade. Officially it’s said to be a celebration of “the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer.” To us it just looks like an excuse for raucous, artistic self-expression…and one heck of a party!
Neptunes and mermaids dance and frolic their way through town alongside floats blasting out hit tune after hit tune. As you would expect from the parade’s name, a marine-themed getup is the order of the day. For a handful that means a bikini top or board shorts. But for others, it means donning an elaborate and colorful costume, makeup and headdress – and they’re the ones who make the schlep over to Coney Island totally worthwhile!
The parade’s often described as Brooklyn’s Mardi Gras, partly thanks to its Mardi Gras roots, but mostly on account of all the flesh on show. Word is it’s legal for a woman to be topless in public in the State of New York…ahem…as long as she’s not part of any business venture at the time.
Naturally there’s an after party. This year Moby (who starred as King Neptune in the 2004 parade) headlines – though unfortunately he’s only playing a DJ set. New York Aquarium just off the boardwalk plays host again. Tickets are $30, though if you’re thinking of partying hard until the frankly way-too-early closing time (12:30am), it might be worth grabbing a $75 ‘VIP’ ticket which includes an open bar and food all night.
Remarkably, this year sees the crazy carnivalesque affair reach its 30th anniversary.
For a quick lowdown on the event’s history see this article from Time Out New York.
If our gallery’s whetted your appetite for more pictures, check out Gothamist’s coverage of the 2010 parade.
Keep up to date with all the latest happenings by following The Mermaid Parade on twitter.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…Brett Ackroyd