PHOTOS: Coney Island Mermaid Parade in New York City (some images NSFW), 06/16/18
A sea of roughly 800,000 spectators (and many fishy creatures) came ashore for the 36th annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade which, unlike last year’s rainy but still fun day, featured beautiful weather to complement its beautiful people of all ages and backgrounds marching in creative, colorful, and often revealing attire.
Appropriately, the largest art parade in the United States was led by two noteworthy artists – New York native singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer and her husband, writer/comic book creator Neil Gaiman, serving as 2018’s Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. They were accompanied by their young son Ash, who rode in their chariot in his pajamas:
Here's a very smily photo taken by @maddygaiman… pic.twitter.com/DYTirvUXTY
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) June 19, 2018
Starting at Surf Avenue and West 21st Street and running along Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk before ending at Steeplechase Plaza, the Mermaid Parade is an important historical and cultural event in New York, as described on the Coney Island 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.
See NEPA Scene’s photos from the 2017 Mermaid Parade here, the 2016 parade here, and the 2015 parade here.
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.