One of the highlights of last summer for me was finally attending the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, an event that had eluded and intrigued me for years. As my 2014 summer started to shape up, there was one thing I knew for sure: I’d be in Brooklyn on June 21st.
After my hastily thrown together costume my inaugural year, I vowed to come back with a bang this time around. Unfortunately that was a promise to myself I didn’t keep. Though I had almost a full week in Brooklyn after leaving Philadelphia, life got in the way and I barely had time to round up two partners-in-crime in time to make my way to Coney Island.
But partners-in-crime they were. Amanda, pictured top left, is a longtime reader who has become a friend since her move to the East Coast, and Will is one of my dear friends from Thailand who happened to be visiting the US on this glorious weekend.
Last year, I’d actually walked in the parade, which was an experience that would be hard to beat. However, I’d grown overwhelmed and skipped out just as the parade hit the scenic boardwalk — first it snakes along Surf Ave, which is less crowded but also less picturesque. So in the name of new experiences (and close proximity to establishments selling alcoholic slushies) we chose to elbow our way up to the barriers along the boardwalk.
We were in for a serious treat.
One of my favorite unexpected surprises was recognizing certain characters from last year! Octopus lady, above? She was the duct tape mermaid of 2013! The adorable family below? They were a Dr. Seuss inspired Red Fish, Blue Fish crew!
And as you can tell, the nautical theme is a loosely-adhered to one. Costumes of any kind are welcome — though this aqua-holic thinks the sea related ones are the most fun.
The Mermaid Parade is for anyone. From little girls to grannies, everyone gets in on the fun. I love thinking of the quality time the families that participate must have had dreaming up and bringing to life their floats and outfits.
One thing is undeniable: everyone who comes to Coney Island to celebrate the start of summer solstice is looking to have a raring good time. I don’t know if it was the sun in the sky, the creativity in the air, or the cocktails in our hands, but everywhere I looked there were people laughing and smiling.
One really fun result of my post covering last year’s parade was that I received a few emails from parade participants who saw my photos of them and asked for copies — which a happily obliged. Now, I’m not going to lie. I really hope that happens again this year, specifically with this group of kick ass ladies below. They absolutely rocked it with their shiny little dance routine and their high-energy high-fives, and I won’t deny that I found myself dreaming of joining their spunky crew. Girl crushing was in full effect. Metallic mamas, are you accepting inquiries for new friendships? MY APPLICATION IS READY.
You go girls!
Not that we were having too shabby a time in the crowd. Will, inspired by the liberal nudity taking place in the parade, stripped down to his speedos — and, inexplicably, a nacho libre mask. This development was extremely well received by our parade-watching neighbors, who lined up to snap photos with the superhero.
And lest we go hungry, there were a million dining options at close hand. While we devoured tacos from Place to Beach, Nathan’s hotdogs was also a classic temptation. Amanda succumbed to a nearby churro vendor, but then apparently felt shy about her purchase.
Every time we thought the last round of magical mermaids had passed, there were a few more around the bend. Once again, I was inspired by the creativity and the efforts of my fellow New Yorkers (okay, I can’t quite call anywhere home right now, but I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.)
Confession: we had been drinking fairly heavily at this point, and in the very unrelenting sun. And thus we came possessed with the idea of riding the Cyclone. From fumbling with the entry gate, to hearing Will cry “sexism!” at the guides who let girls on in their bikinis but not he on in his speedo, to screaming as the roller coaster went tearing around its rickety wooden tracks, I can’t remember the last time I laughed quite so hard.
After the last mermaid strutted past, the parade dissolved into a full on boardwalk dance party — I’d expect nothing less. And so we bopped the day away in front of the ocean; celebrating summer, sea creatures, good art and great vibes.
Sea you next year, merpeople of New York!