Merpeople live underwater

The Mermaid Parade kicks off summer swimming season in Coney Island every year since 1983. Saturday was rainy (not surprising given the recent weather conditions) and local fair, Flea by the Sea, sent an e-mail announcing that it would be closed due to forecasted thunderstorms. Despite seemingly negative factors - the country's largest art parade went on as scheduled!

Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, founded both the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and Mermaid Parade in the early 80's. He dreamed of celebrating the artistry and heritage of Coney Island in similar fashion to the Village's Halloween Parade crossed with the Mardi Gras of Coney Island's past (1903-1954).

Every year, people and animals of all kinds come out to the beaches of Brooklyn to join in the masquerading. Most costumes pay homage to sea life: jellyfish, sharks, titans + pirates were all in attendance this year.

Many folks also enjoy celebrating the freaks of circus culture - Zoltar (from the movie Big) was seen headed down Surf Avenue granting wishes.

Mermaid parade is well known for scandalous costumes including partial nudity and lots of pasties - apparently it is legal in New York State for women to be topless in public as long as it is not part of a business venture. Interesting.

These three women were fully covered in body paint - not sure how they relate to mermaids but certainly fit right in with the Coney Island spirit.

The parade route ran along Surf Ave showcasing floats and antique cars - as well as several political activists, voicing their opinions on the current state of Coney Island.

Years past have threatened they would be the last of the Mermaid Parades, but fortunately the show continues to go on! Beads were tossed from floats, the Ringling Bros. handed out plastic noses + dancing was infectious.

All in all, it was a wonderful showcase of the creativity and fun New York City and Coney Island specifically, have to offer. The day started off to a very wet start - but rains calmed to a slight drizzle for the majority of the parade. Either way, the merpeople were happy - they do live underwater after all!

- lisa