Where: Coney Island, New York, USA
Coney Island played host to its very own Mardi Gras in the first half of the 19th century, which attracted up to half a million people at its pomp. This event seems to have been a somewhat drunken, bawdy affair, which didn’t seem to change much even during prohibition! Sadly, Mardi Gras staggered to a halt in 1954 due to council changes and various other issues, but all was not lost. In an attempt to revive the Coney Island summer tradition, the Mermaid Parade was born some thirty years later.
The Mermaid Parade is a celebration of the beginning of summer. Participants dress in custom made costumes depicting Mermaids, Sea Gods, other nautical creatures and some stranger cousins of the sea (ships, lighthouses, etc). These marine-clad accessories are led by a King and Queen in the highlight of the day – the Parade.
The parade culminates when King Neptune and Queen Mermaid stride down the beach slicing through seasonal ribbons. Fruit is then thrown into the ocean in a symbolic attempt to appease the sea gods and ensure good weather for the summer months. Expect to see some celebrities in the top roles. Queen Latifah and Harvey Keitel being two of the previous incumbants.
But that’s not all. There are other events and happenings, such as rides, feats of strength, sideshows (some of them a little risqué), and food & drink (although the erstwhile tradition of outward drunkenness is no longer appreciated, thank you).
The whole day wraps up with the Mermaid Parade Ball, where costumed participants and general spectators can let their hair down with live music and burlesque acts. Sounds like a good day out.
More info about this and other events: Clockwork Gallery @ Facebook.