If there’s one parade that rain cannot ruin (and maybe even enhance), it’s the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
The colorful aquatic attendees of the 35th annual parade on Saturday, June 17 just swam right on through it, showing off their big smiles and imaginative costumes, with many leaving little to the imagination. That’s what it’s all about, though – expressing yourself freely in a fun, inclusive sea of thousands of creative creatures led by Queen Mermaid and King Neptune, who were played by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie this year.
Just a few months ago, it seemed that the largest art parade in the United States may not even happen in 2017 due to increasing costs and funding issues, but the nonprofit organizers raised the $50,000 needed to continue the free event, showing just how much it means to the city and its unique communities.
Starting at Surf Avenue and West 21st Street and running along Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk before ending at Steeplechase Plaza, the Mermaid Parade has a long and important artistic history, as described on the official website:
A celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs and beyond, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit, and community pride. The parade highlights Coney Island Pageantry based on a century of many Coney parades, celebrates the artistic vision of the masses, and ensures that the summer season is a success by bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the amusement area in a single day.
The Mermaid Parade specifically was founded in 1983 with three goals: it brings mythology to life for local residents who live on streets named Mermaid and Neptune; it creates self-esteem in a district that is often disregarded as “entertainment;” and it lets artistic New Yorkers find self-expression in public.
Unlike most parades, this one has no ethnic, religious, or commercial aims. It’s a major New York holiday invented by artists! An American version of the summer solstice celebration, it takes pride of place with West African Water Festivals and Ancient Greek and Roman street theater. It features participants dressed in handmade costumes based on themes and categories set by us. This creates an artistic framework on which artists can improvise, resulting in the flourishing of frivolity, dedication, pride, and personal vision that has become how New York celebrates summer.
Check out photos from the 2016 Mermaid Parade here, the 2015 parade here, or see them in person at Loyalty Barber Shop and Shave Parlor of Scranton as part of a First Friday exhibit on display through the end of the month:
Congrats to our photographer Keith Perks on a successful show featuring his Coney Island Mermaid Parade photos at Loyalty Barber Shop in downtown Scranton! Be sure to stop down and check out the photos if you haven't yet! #Scranton #ScrantonPA #WilkesBarre #WilkesBarrePA #Pennsylvania #NEPA #NEPAScene #1120Studios #ConeyIsland #MermaidParade #mermaid #NewYork #NYC #parade #photog #photographer #photography #photos #art #artist #gallery #portrait #artwalk #downtownScranton #FirstFriday #FirstFridayScranton #localbusiness #Loyalty #LoyaltyBarberShop #supportlocal
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by Keith Perks
Keith is an artist, photographer, and writer. He loves diners, dive bars, Southern culture, anything Irish, and vintage America. He knows Cytoxan kicks in after about eight hours and he once helped save a green pig.