All hail Queen Mermaid and King Neptune! Coney Island’s famed Mermaid Parade–where this Saturday Annabella Sciorra will be filling the tail of the queen and Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling will be raising the Trident of the king–marks the official beginning of summer and is one of New York City’s most brilliant and wacky displays. All are welcome to come dressed as Mermaids, Neptunes and just about any sea creature you could imagine. And in case you didn’t realize it, the Mermaid Parade is a family-friendly event that should become a tradition for all adventure-seeking little girls and boys. Here is our guide to get you into you into sea shape for The 30th Annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
What to Wear
If your sewing skills are on point and you’re keen on getting the family decked out for the occasion check out Pintrest for some great mermaid inspiration. Once you’ve sketched out a few ideas head over to The Brooklyn General for a great selection of fabrics and notions to create a scaly mermaid tail, a beard made of pillow stuffing for your little Neptune or a seaweed-inspired ensemble for yourself. Fiber Notion on Union also has a an extensive selection of crafting supplies like ribbon, tulle, feathers and more for your little Mermaids and Mermans.
If you’re not skilled in the art of sewing and hot-glue gunning, shame on you! Just kidding. There’s plenty of prefab adornment to get the kids excited about the festivities. The Tea Su Chi Mermaid Tee or the Tea Water Goddess Hoodie from Area Kids lets the little ones represent for the sultry sea creatures. And for some whimsical flair Mini Jake sells playsilk items made by Sarah’s Silks. The head garland, mermaid costume and streamers are all Mermaid Parade approved.
Once you’ve got attire for the kids whip up something for yourself. Moms and dads can get a shimmery base layer at your neighborhood American Apparel outlet and make something extravagant with supplies from Utrecht Art Supply in Clinton Hill or Artist and Craftsman Supplies in Williamsburg, which has a great selection of crafting materials.
The Parade Route
Most importantly the parade route kicks off at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue at 1 pm. The parade route goes east to West 10th Street and at West 10th the festivities will turn south towards the Boardwalk. On the first leg of the route you will be able to see all motorized floats and vehicles. When the parade hits the boardwalk only push/pull floats and marchers are allowed. The procession will continue to West 17th Street and the parade will disband at Steeplechase Plaza. The highlight of the Mermaid Parade is following the Queen Mermaid and King Neptune from the Boardwalk down to the beach where they will cut a symbolic ribbon to welcome the summer swimming season. And not to be missed is the spectacular tossing of the fruit into the sea to appease the Sea Gods.
When to Arrive
Most spectators enjoy grabbing a spot on the boardwalk. This is the best place for pictures and that authentic Coney Island vibe. The parade does get crowded, so if your little ones can hang in there we suggest arriving by 11am, about two hours before start time (1pm) if you want prime seating. Don’t forget your beach chairs. And if you opt to check out the motorized float and vehicle part of the parade the parade’s site suggests it’s best to stand on the North side of Surf (the non-beach side), because getting to the subway or crossing Surf Avenue can be difficult due to crowds.
Getting into the Parade
If you wish to participate and walk in the parade, register here for Mermaid Parade registration, which closes today, Thursday, June 21st at 11pm. (If for some reason you miss online registration, or decide to march last minute, registration opens up at 10am the day of the parade, too.) Adult family marchers pay a fee of $15 per adult and $10 for each child marching in the parade. Human Family powered floats can be registered for $20. And if you wish to limit the aural onslaught and visual delights, when you register, you can request to be placed in a section of the parade with moderate noise and no nudity because mermaids have a tendency to lose their tops at sea.
And know–all registered marchers are up for judging so if you’re competitive go all out and take home a title!
Keep in mind that there are crowds and loud music. Pack earplugs or noise reducing headphones for the kiddos. Jot this down: Coney Island public bathrooms are located in the Stillwell Avenue Subway Station and along the beach there are public restrooms at Corbin Place and Coney Island Avenue, Stillwell Avenue, West 16th Street and West 22nd Street. And in preparation for almost any family summer outing be sure to pack sunscreen, sun hats, diapers, wipes, snacks and a spray bottle to mist the kids for refreshment. In the event of an overwhelmed child, break off the parade route at the boardwalk and enter the New York Aquarium at Surf Avenue. Mermaids Welcome.