I have been threatening to go to the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island for years now, and I finally was free the weekend it occurred, so I grabbed Cricket and we headed down. There’s the New York Aquarium there too, so we figured we’d hit up both that day. In case you don’t know what the deal is with the Mermaid Parade, here’s a description from the official Coney Island website.
The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression. The Parade is characterized by participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed.
Each year, a different celebrity King Neptune and Queen Mermaid rule over the proceedings, riding in the Parade and assisting in the opening of the Ocean for 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, David Byrne, Queen Latifah, Ron Kuby, Curtis Sliwa, Moby, David Johansen and Harvey Keitel have graced our shores, presiding over the assembled masses.
Yeah, it’s similar to the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. More on that later. But first, the aquarium!
I loved the weathervane on top of the cafe. It’s hard to see, but in the middle is a fish, and then for each direction there is a different nifty creature – an octopus, a seahorse, a dolphin and a penguin. I thought is was terrific and I want one in my living room.
Even though I have a regular average little Canon Elph camera, I got some really nice pictures of jellies in all their stinging diaphanous glory.
One of my favorite things about fish are the names they are given. My favorite of all time is the Picasso Triggerfish because, well, it looks like a Picasso painting and it has a little fin-thing on its back that it pops up and down. Genius. This adorable little feller also has a fun descriptive name.
There was a tank with seahorses and a cowfish. A cowfish is called a cowfish because it has horns. And I call it super-cute because it is super-cute, with its kissyface and its flat bottom. It was also extremely difficult to take a picture of the cowfish because it was in a dark tank and it moved around a lot. But I made a concerted effort.
Here’s a decent picture of two seahorses with the cowfish in the background. As you can see, one seahorse is blackish-brownish and one is much lighter. I learned that they can change color at will, like octopii.
I was very concerned at one point because I passed a tank that said “False Clownfish” and the fishies looked exactly like Marlin and Nemo from Finding Nemo. Then I passed another tank that said “Something Something Clownfish” and these guys were swimming in there.
And I thought, “Are these the real clownfish? Was Pixar not accurate? Is my whole life a lie?” I’m not joking. I had a little knot in my stomach and everything. It was a little touch-and-go there for a while. Today at work I looked it up and breathed a large sigh of relief because apparently there’s a whole bunch of different clownfish and some of them indeed look exactly Marlin and Nemo, so Pixar didn’t lie to me and all is right with the world.
Here is a nice picture I took on the boardwalk of Coney Island. If you close your eyes, you can smell the coconut-scented suntan lotion and the Nathan’s hot dogs.
Now, the Mermaid Parade. It’s not what you would call a real organized thing. It’s kind of like a bunch of art school students got together, picked a theme (the ocean) and made an impromptu parade. Lots of nudity and glitter and whatnot. Here are some of the highlights.
As always, there were a few people who were completely insane and possibly dress like every day but because there was a parade occurring they looked like they fit in. I think this man was one of these people. He was so weird I didn’t even notice the parrot on his head until I got home that night and looked at the pictures on my computer.
There were quite a few children marching, being pushed in strollers, etc. This was a favorite of mine: a child wearing an angry duck mask squirting the crowd with a water gun.
Another group costume I liked was the flea circus. I don’t know how well you can see it in the picture, but all the ladies have antennae on their heads and puffs of tulle on their butt, mimicking flea hinders.
There was rather well-painted fish float/sculpture/thing.
Also in attendance was Wallpaper Squid Man, Screaming Shark Girl and Oyster Boy with Strategically Placed Pearl.
But the reason everyone comes to see this parade is for the boobies. In New York a lady can’t show her nipple-y bits, but she can wear pasties or body paint. So many a lass was rockin’ the starfish coverup or something like it.
It was a fun experience, but I don’t think I’ll go again. It was a long trek getting out there and even longer getting back, so I think I’m good for now.