After two years of cancellations, Coney Island is finally ready to shell-ebrate.
The Mermaid Parade will be back on Coney Island this Saturday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The seaside tradition, which started in 1983, will showcase over 3,000 participants, many dressed in colorful ocean-themed costumes, setting off at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue. After a two-year hiatus, the pirates, merfolk, and sea creatures of New York City are looking forward to its return.
“Imagine the greatest underwater safari that you can be on where there’s just something to see all over the place,” said Adam Rinn, artistic director of Coney Island USA, which organizes the event. “And if you blink, don’t worry, because there’s even more cool stuff coming up.”
The last rendition in 2019 drew nearly 800,000 people to the area, organizers of the parade estimated. That’s a long way from 2022, and Rinn said the parade faithful will be releasing all that anxious energy this weekend.
“All of the participants have had the last two years to build up their creative energies, to store it up and it’s going to absolutely explode this Saturday,” Rinn said.
The parade is an un-official summer kick-off, and a celebration of artistic self-expression and community. Leading the way this year, the parade announced its Queen Mermaid to be performer Mx Justin Vivian Bond and King Neptune will be Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, former health commissioner for New York City.
“It’s a huge party and it’s participant driven,” Rinn said. “So the participants who are coming dressed as sea creatures, as mermaids, as Neptunes, as sailors as monsters, it’s all their creativity and the things that they have done to, you know, make it such a colorful event.”
Rinn grew up in the neighborhood and has been attending the event for nearly 40 years. He said it’s important for attendees to be respectful of the year-round residents, and encouraged them to explore Coney Island beyond the parade route.
“It’s also a chance to explore the area. Walk down a couple of blocks, walk down to Mermaid Avenue, maybe walk down Brighton Beach avenue and support the local mom and pop businesses that are trying to make a go of this,” he said. “They had as much of a hard time over the last couple of years as everybody else, and they deserve everyone’s support.”
WHERE: The parade takes off at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue. It goes east to West 10th Street, then turns south towards the boardwalk, and ends on the pier. Check out the parade map here.
WHEN: The parade takes off at 1 pm, but attendees are encouraged to get there early.
BEST WAY TO GET THERE: Train. Don’t even think about driving. Take the D, F, N or Q subways to Stillwell Avenue.