The Mermaid Parade is a completely original creation that is
the nation's largest art parade and one of New York City's greatest
Founded in 1983 by Coney Island USA, the not-for-profit arts
organization that also produces the Coney Island Circus Sideshow,
the Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island's forgotten Mardi
Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954, and draws from a host of
other sources resulting in a wonderful and wacky event that
is unique to Coney Island.
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, and David Johansen
have graced our shores, presiding over the assembled masses.