Mermaid Parade Brightens Coney Island With Mythology and Mayhem
CONEY ISLAND — Sea creatures both mythological and biological promenaded along Surf Avenue Saturday for the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
The Mermaid Parade is an American celebration of ancient mythology and the honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, invented by artists in 1983.
"Welcome to America's most underdressed parade," Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz told crowds gathered along the street as the parade moved down Surf Avenue towards its eventual seaside destination.
The Mermaid Parade showcases more than 1,500 creations, including floats, vintage cars, elaborate costumes, live performances and music from all five boroughs and kicks off the summer with incredible art, an entrepreneurial spirit and unflagging Coney Island pride.
Unlike most parades, this one features no ethnic, religious or commercial aims. Participants can appear bedecked in marine-themed costumes that range from the skimpy to the elaborate and complex.
This year's celebrity honorees, Judah Friedlander as King Neptune, and Carole Radziwell as Queen Mermaid, officiated the ceremony, which marks the 30th anniversary since the parade's birth.
Other revelers included the Seuss-themed One Fish and Two Fish and their baby Blue Fish and "Fin-derella and Her Glass Flipper," along with seahorses, jellyfish, yellow submarines and a mermaid sushi roll.
Drag queens from Lucky Cheng's Drag Caberet Restaurant also turned several heads, especially a queen painted and dressed head-to-toe as a pitch-black mermaid.
"She was seriously fierce," said first time paradegoer Jessica Cannata, a New Jersey resident.
Carmen Cruz, who is visiting New York from Miami, agreed.
"I was shocked and amazed," she said. "She rocked it."
Cannata spent several days crafting her own costume for her first time at the parade, sewing seaweed-like strands individually onto an elastic belt and a purse purchased from the dollar store. She drilled holes into seashells and took out seashell necklaces on loan from a consignment shop to complete her mermaid look.
Liam O'Brien, a Crown Heights resident, used materials he found around the house for his military-like merman costume. "I'm underemployed," he explained.
Monica Friedrich, a resident of Babylon Village, Long Island, said her own costume has taken since February to perfect. Complete with a coral-inspired headdress and a fishing net-like crocheted shawl, she even made her own fish-shaped glass rings. And, for her annual signature, her chest, Friedrich sculpted a pair paper mache puffer fish.
This was Friedrich's fourth year appearing in the Mermaid Parade. In 2010, Harvey Stein photographed her costume and included it in his book, "Coney Island: 40 Years" and the image was used to promote the fundraiser for this year's event.
"I get to be myself for an entire day," she said. "This is who I am. I'm an artist. It's my time to shine."
For more summer events visit DNAinfo's Summer Events Calendar.
For more on the parade visit the Mermaid Parade's Facebook page.