The Coney Island Mermaid Parade turns 40, returns to the boardwalk this year

June 10, 2022

Photo credit: © Norman Blake

Even a pandemic can’t sink the zany spirit of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. The event, now in its 40th year, is the nation’s biggest art parade and the largest annual event in Coney Island. After a two-year hiatus, the parade will return “fin-person” this year to welcome summer, co-presented by Coney Island USA and Coney Island Brewery, on Saturday, June 18, rain or shine.

Joining famous art parades like Love Parade in Berlin, Mardi Gras and Carnaval, and the Doo Dah parade in Pasadena, CA, the colorful seaside celebration honors ancient mythology as much as modern creativity and Coney Island kitsch, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the boardwalk every summer.

Expect marching bands, drill teams, floats, antique cars and around 1,500 participants costumed in their own interpretations of undersea glamour, humor and star power.

Mx Justin Vivian Bond and Dr. Dave Chokshi will reign over this year’s festivities as Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. As per tradition, they’ll be wheeled through parade route in a 1923 vintage wicker boardwalk rolling chair

The parade starts at 1 p.m. on West 21st and Surf Avenue and heads down Surf Avenue to West 10th, winds its way south to the Boardwalk, then heads west back to Steeplechase Plaza on the Boardwalk. At 4 p.m. Adam Rinn, Coney Island’s artistic director, will usher in the summer swimming season by leading a royal procession through the Maimonides Park Parking lot, culminating in the official Beach Ceremony. The Mermaid Parade Ball–the official after-party–happens from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Coney Island Brewery at 1904 Surf Avenue.

“We are very excited to have Mx Justin Vivian Bond and Dr. Dave Chokshi lead the parade, as this year’s Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. We’re thrilled to be bringing an in-person parade back after a two-year absence,” Rinn said.

“We know that the participants have all this pent-up creative energy that they’ve been storing up. We’re all looking forward to seeing the best costumes, floats, and marchers in the parade’s history. And, we are thrilled to have our good friends at the Coney Island Brewery as our co-presenter.”

The Mermaid Parade was founded in 1983 by Coney Island USA for three main reasons: to bring mythology to life for residents of Mermaid and Neptune streets, to create self-esteem in an often forgotten (at the time) neighborhood, and to let artistic New Yorkers express themselves.

Previous parade royals have included Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Queen Latifah, Moby, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Annabella Sciorra, Judah Friedlander, Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, David Johansen, Karen Duffy, Carole Radziwill, Harvey Keitel and Daphne Keitel

Parade registration is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot on 21st street and Surf Avenue. Further info and tickets can be purchased here. Parade registration and informaton are available here.


All photos © Norman Blake

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