When I embarked on my RTW trip my first port of call was the gorgeous New York (unless you count four days stuck in Melbourne airport..) and arriving just days before the Mermaid Parade I was stoked to be on my first solo adventure. After carefully navigating my way to Coney Island on the subway, eating my first ‘American sized’ McDonalds meal (Don’t order large in America unless your on a date!) I found my way into a (almost) prime position on a street corner whilst jostling for a better position with 50 other people.
The Coney Island Parade was first held in 1983 as a art festival which still pays hommage to the Madi Gras which was held on Coney Island until 1954. Now New Yorkers and tourists pack the streets of Coney Island to pay hommage to the beginning of summer and the opening of the sea for the summer season, and to see the stunning, and often risque, handmade costumes and floats participants create. But it’s not all mythical sea creatures. There are people driving their beautiful antique cars, marching bands (and bands on top of buses!) and the chance to see King Neptune and the Queen mermaid.
In 2010, BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has occurred in April and many parade entrants used the parade as a platform to protect the sea and environment damaged from oil dredging. Entrants put oil on their costumes, used banners and posters and also floats to highlight to environmental concern and raise awareness of ocean protection.
Whilst still containing a Madi Gras feel and presence the parade is also very family orientated with quite a lot of parents taking their children along to both view and be a part of the parade. (Please not that mermaids are known to wear, well, very little! That being said, there is a lot of body paint to cover up.)
The Coney Island Mermaid Parade will be held on June 18th, 2011 at 2pm. So get down to Coney Island and get your mermaid (or mer-men) on!
To get to Coney Island you should take the D, F, N or Q subway to Stillwell Avenue. You can also drive along the Belt Parkway and using Exits 6 or 7.
For more information please visit the Official Coney Island website.