According to the festival’s website, the march honors ancient mythology and “honky-tonk rites” of the seaside with 1,500 participants from all across New York City.
As a reminder of the coming season, the event is traditionally held on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice.
The Mermaid Parade has been a local event since 1983, commemorating both the summer solstice and the Brooklyn neighborhood’s eccentric past.
Despite uncharacteristically low temperatures and an uncooperative sun, the event returned to Brooklyn on Saturday.
The parade was technically ‘held’ as a virtual event in 2020. The 2021 edition was delayed to September in a last-ditch effort to save it, but it was eventually canceled.
Every year, a new King Neptune and Queen Mermaid are installed. This year’s King Neptune was Dr. Dave Chokshi, former New York City Health Commissioner, and Queen Mermaid was Tony nominee and transgender entertainer Justin Vivian Bond.
Among those honored in the past have included folk singer Arlo Guthrie, Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s son Dante and daughter Chiara, Velvet Underground mastermind Lou Reed, Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne, and actress/singer Queen Latifah.
The parade, according to Adam Rinn, artistic director of Coney Island USA, which organizes the event, has something for everyone.
‘Imagine the best underwater safari you’ve ever been on, where there’s always something new to see,’ Rinn remarked. ‘And don’t worry if you blink, because there’s even more fantastic stuff coming up.’
Schools of sparkly mermaids marched in a stunning array of pearls, jewels, fringe shells, sequins, scales, and sparkling seaweed.
As marchers danced under the blazing sun and people shouted from the sidewalk, festive floats made their way down the parade route in Coney Island.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park’s DJ Vourderis told PIX 11 that the parade is a “big fiesta” and just what people need after the outbreak.
‘COVID brought out the worst in all of us,’ he claimed. ‘This is the best of us and a happy place.’