Brooklyn’s annual Mermaid parade hits the streets of Coney Island once again on June 18. Here are six things to know so you can have the best day ever. By Carly Petrone.
This Year’s Mermaid Queen and King Neptune
This year, all patrons can hail to Mermaid Queen Hailey Clauson and King Neptune Carlo A. Scissura. Clauson was featured on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and she’ll make the perfect mermaid, thanks to her long blonde locks and California glow.
Scissura is the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce as well as a lawyer and former small business owner. Together, they will preside over their thousands of subjects before eventually being escorted by parade founder Dick D. Zigun to the beach for the opening of the ocean for summer swimming season.
Mermaid Parade History
The Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation! It is a celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside. It was founded in 1983 with three goals in mind: it brings mythology to life for local residents who live on the Mermaid and Neptune streets; it creates self-esteem in a district that is often disregarded as “entertainment;” and it lets artistic New Yorkers find self-expression in public.
Become A Judge At The Parade
Want to actually be a judge at this year’s parade? All you have to do is become a member of Coney Island USA at the “Big Time Spender” level ($200) and you can not only become a Mermaid Parade judge, but you’ll also snag great seats on the viewing stand and you’ll go home with an official judge t-shirt. Becoming a member at this level will also get you two free tickets for sideshow performances, $10 tickets for selected Burlesque at the Beach Performances, as well as 10% off selected gift shop items. Learn more here.
The parade begins at 1 p.m. and the route will start at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue, moving east to West 10th Street. At West 10th Street, the parade will turn south towards the boardwalk where marchers and push-pull floats will turn west and head towards West 17th Street. Finally, the parade will disband at Steeplechase Plaza. There won’t be a Mermaid Parade Ball this year, but everyone is encouraged to party at the Freak Bar immediately after the parade. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and participants are encouraged to arrive between 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. You can also register in advance here.
What To Wear
This is your day to shine, so go big or go home. If you’re looking for something tentacle-like, try investing in something simple, like pool noodles. Grab an old bridesmaid’s dress from a thrift store for fun fabric, or find old Christmas decorations to add in some extra sparkle to your outfit. Don’t forget a parasol or cute umbrella to help shade yourself from the sun.
Longtime parade marcher Nimue La Mer suggests bringing a pair of scissors in case you need to get in and out of your costume quickly (hello bathroom break!). And packing essentials like your ID, keys, bottled water, cellphone, sunscreen, band-aids, snacks, and possibly even an extra pair of flip flops is always a must.
Where To Watch
Many spectators park it at the Boardwalk, however this only features marchers and push-pull floats. If you want to see the antique cars and motorized floats, you’ll want to head over to Surf Avenue – just be aware that the crowds will be as large as those in Times Square on new Year’s Eve, so come prepared. If you don’t want to stay for the whole parade, make sure to stand on the North side of Surf Ave. (non-beach side) since getting to the subway and crossing Surf Avenue can be difficult due to crowds.
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Carly Petrone is a freelance writer living in New York City.