This past Saturday, June 21st, New Yorkers had a chance to grow back their tails, don their eye patches, and be part of that worlddd at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Mayor Bill de Blasio was there, maybe you were there, and Greenpointers was definitely there…getting the full scoop.
The Coney Island Mermaid parade was invented by artists in the early 1980s to celebrate ancient mythology, pay homage to the Mardi Gras parades of the early 20th century, and to mark the beginning of the summer season.
Since 1983, it has brought together thousands of mermaids and hundreds of thousands of spectators each year, traveling on foot down Surf Avenue, or via push carts, wagons, motorized floats, skateboards, and anything else with wheels.
This year, pirates swiped their Metrocards and packs of mermaids with hand-made tails pushed into already crowded subway cars heading towards Coney Island. They left behind trails of glitter and seashells, and emerged onto sun-baked streets pulsing with a nostalgic sense of 1960s liberation.
Brooklyn-based photographer Laura Weyl writes: Beautifully adorned, jeweled and glistening mermaids stuffed their faces with Nathan’s hot dogs while sweaty photographers scuttled like crabs along the procession. Spirits were high and the sun was beaming, and the train home was free. The unfettered energy and the diversity of colors, costumes, foods, and humans was incomparable to any other gathering I’ve witnessed in this magnificent city.
Per tradition, a King Neptune and Queen Mermaid are chosen each year to ride in the highest position of honor—an antique wicker rolling chair that dates back to 1923 and is wheeled along the parade route. This year, the honor went to Mayor de Blasio’s teenage children, Dante and Chiara.
In other years, David Byrne, Queen Latifah, Adam Savage, Harvey Keitel, and Moby have filled the royal seats. In the 2010 parade, the King was Lou Reed and the Queen was Laurie Anderson.
For more information on the parade, visit here. For more from Brooklyn photographer Laura Weyl, follow her on Instagram @metagasm and Twitter @metagasm.