New York City (NYC)
The 2016 Parade will be held Saturday, June 18th.
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The Mermaid Parade is an original creation of Coney Island USA, a not-for-profit arts organization. Since 1983, the
parade has taken place every year in Coney Island on the third Saturday in June. The Mermaid Parade originated to help preserve
the tradition of Mardi-Gras type events that were popular in Coney Island between 1903 and 1954. It is the nation’s
largest art parade and one of NYC’s greatest summer events. It is a celebration of the sun, sand, sea, the salt air and
beginning of summer. An ocean-themed event, it features Neptune, mermaids, mermen and many fantastic sea creatures.
The event allows for participants to show off their shiny scales and elastic flippers, as the most outrageous and
flamboyant hand made costumes are paraded in front of amused spectators. Many even leave their clothing at home and simply
cover their bodies with artful body paint, which is also mostly ocean-themed. An integral part of the festivities is a medley
of antique cars, marching bands, drill teams and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed. The parade rolls down from West 21st Street
and Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, and continues east to West 10th Street, before turning south towards the Boardwalk.
Each year, a different celebrity King Neptune and Queen Mermaid preside over the parade. They open the summer swimming
season by marching down the beach from the Boardwalk, cutting through ribbons representing the seasons, and tossing fruit
into the Atlantic to appease the Sea Gods. In the past, celebrities like David Byrne, Queen Latifah, Ron Kuby, Curtis Sliwa,
Moby, David Johansen and Harvey Keitel have reigned over the parade.
The parade wouldn’t be a success without the many volunteers who come out to help every year. They assist with
registration, check-in, merchandising, security, wrangling, survey taking and various aspects of production.
The parade is followed by the Mermaid Parade Ball, an annual extravaganza, where the parade participants and spectators get together to mingle, listen to live music, purchase raffle tickets and watch burlesque and sideshow acts performed by many of NYC’s sultriest burlesque stars.