You guys, the mermaid parade. The mermaid parade, you guys OMG.
…is an into a better writer wouldn’t have started with. But seriously, it’s just…soooo good. It might have been made for me.
The Mermaid Parade happens in Coney Island, Brooklyn every year at the beginning of summer. It’s touted as the ‘nations’s largest art parade’ and has been going on for over 30 years.
What does it celebrate exactly? On the website it’s ‘A celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs and beyond, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit and community pride.’
Which translates to, ‘Fuck it. We’re having a parade is why.’ Which I think, it’s the best way to go about having a parade. Nothing political attached to it, nothing commercialized, just a bunch of artsy nerds like me, dressing up like mermaids, or things like mermaids, or some kinda nautical thing but also maybe throw in some Star Wars or Ghostbusters or maybe we’re mermaids but it’s the 1920s or maybe we’re just like mostly naked aside from a model of a tall ship that’s been glued to our tits. (Not pictured: Chick with a boat glued to her tits.)
I know tons of people who’ve gone to the mermaid parade and have stalked it from afar for several years, so when my brother moved to New York, I made it a point give it a visit.
The main attraction of the parade is the elaborate costumes that marchers and bystanders alike, wear to the event. This isn’t your boring 4th of July parade where a bunch of old guys ride by on a fire truck. This is scores of costume designers, artists, burlesque dancers and all around creative people, pulling out all the stops to makes something ridiculous and beautiful. There’s no commercialization, (its damn near impossible to even find a t shirt.) The mermaid parade is just a celebration of being whatever it is that you are.
There’s also a costume contest where you can bribe the judges with booze and other mermaid goodies and an official King and Queen of the parade. Good vibes all around.
What I totally didn’t expect was the amount of photographers, that were just fucking everywhere. Like everywhere, everywhere. With big fancy cameras, stalking you like a celebrity. On our way to the parade check in we were stopped over and over by professional photographers, parents with kids, chicks with iPhones and reeeeally creepy dudes who just wanted to get close to a bunch of half naked girls with their tits out. (My favorite was the guy who was missing several teeth and had a disposable windup camera….ya know like a sane person.)
It continued while walking in the parade itself. In addition to regular people taking iPhone photos from the sidelines, some photographers would jump right into the parade just to get some photos.
Now, look you guys, I’m a performer and as such, I completely ate this shit up….until several hours later when I was sitting around drinking with my friends and I had to let nameless Brooklyn hipster #43 take another photo of my flower crown for her Instagram feed. To be fair though, it’s like a really sweet flower crown.
In conclusion, I would be really good at being a celebrity, but for only like 4 hours. Then I’d get frustrated and punch a photographer and have to issue an apology and go to rehab for some personal problem I have no intention of actually fixing. I image this aspect of the parade wasn’t nearly as intense before social media, but it’s is what lead me to the parade in the first place, so I can’t knock it too much.
AAAAnnnway if you are an artsy weirdo like me, you pretty much have to go to this, as long as you are cool with a little nudity (and not just hot chick nudity, this is equal opportunity nudity) and general craziness. It was amazing to see the incredible costumes people made. My costume was decent for something someone new to the parade would create, but it didn’t even come close to some of the stuff I saw. The beach was beautiful, (yes NYC has beaches,) and in general the feeling of the place was just joyful.
I highly recommend it.
(Unless you’re a square.)
Want to check out the parade next year? Find more info at www.coneyisland.com!
Want to see how I put together my costume? Check out my fashion blog stylishforastandup.com!