By APB Staff Writer
Forget the solstice, the official start of summer in the Big Apple is the spectacular annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade!
The flamboyant nautical themed tradition stretches back to 1983, taking place on the Saturday closest to the calendar start of summer. Founded by Dick D. Zigun – the unofficial “Mayor of Coney Island” – the Mermaid Parade pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras of the early 20th Century.
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The NYPD was visible on the parade route and from behind including members of the elite counter terrorism unit. No arrests were reported.
For the 34th Annual Parade, resplendent revelers in the guise of mermaids and mermen spanning young children to senior citizens were outfitted in homespun kaleidoscopic costumes representing every sea creature imaginable – some real, some fictional!
Amid the barrage of shimmering fabrics and intricate headdresses, fashion model Hailey Clauson served as this year’s Queen Mermaid, and President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber assumed the role of King Neptune.
Resplendent in a black corset adorned with seashells, cape, and a pearly crown, Clauson – a noted fan of punk rock – complimented her costume with black grunge-chic boots.
The Guardian Angels, led by legendary urban anti-crime activist and boisterous television news personality Curtis Sliwa, marched in “Safety Patrol” formation outfitted in their traditional red satin jackets and red berets which stood out among the sea of marchers adorned in blue and silver and green. Marchers interacted with kids along the parade route as a jazz band blurted Dixie blues!
Commencing on West 21st and Surf Avenue and rolling down East to West 10th Street to its eventual conclusion at Steeplechase Plaza, the Parade drew over 3,000 participants and an estimated half-million spectators.
According to Coney Island organizers, the Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation and biggest event dedicated to ancient mythology and the ribald rituals of the sea shore!