Friday, June 26, 2009

Not Another Freakin' Mermaid Parade Slideshow... Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2009

I know that everybody and their momma posts a slideshow of their pics of the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade in all its pastie-clad glory, so why should I be any different?

New York Loves a parade. We have three GLBT/Q Pride Parades in three separate boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens). We have several St. Patrick's Day Parades. We have three Puerto Rican Day Parades, with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan being not only the largest Puerto Rican parade in the nation, but also one of the largest outdoor events in the country. There's the Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan's Chinatown and the Lunar New Year Festival and Parade in Flushing, Queens. In Brooklyn we have the West Indian Day Parade (aka the Labor Day Parade) which is modeled after the Carnivals of Trinidad, Tobago and other Caribbean Islands with a Carnival tradition.

There's parades based on religion, such as the Sikh Cultural Society Parade, the Muslim Day Parade, the Easter Parade, the Christian Youth Parade and the Hare Krishna Parade.

There's parades based on ethnicity and national origin, like the above mentioned Puerto Rican Day Parades and Brooklyn's West Indian Day Parade. There's also the Mexican Day Parade, Cuba Day Parade, Hispanic Day Parade, African-American Day Parade, Turkish-American Parade, Norweigian-American Parade, Dominican Day Parade, Haitian-American Day Parade, Phillipine Independence Day Parade, India Independence Day Parade and Pakistan Independence Day Parade, just to name a few. No disrespect to any group I may have left out.

Then there's the art parades, like the Soho Art Parade, the Village Halloween Parade which is the country's largest night parade and the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. The mulicultural New York Dance Parade feautures live bands and DJs and showcases everything from ballet to breakdancing, belly dancing to tango, and from salsa to swing.

Last but not least, there's the D.I.Y. nature and street theatrics of the more chaotic, unpermitted events like the monthly Critical Mass bike rides where bicyclists take over the streets promoting eco-friendly transportation alternatives and celebrating bike culture, the NYC Zombie Crawl and NYC ZombieCon where massive hordes of zombies terrorize innocent onlookers, the NYC SantaCon in December where hundreds of drunken Santas take to the streets spreading joy and the annual No Pants Subway Ride where hundreds of New Yorkers ride the subway without their pants, also spreading joy.

The Mermaid Parade is definitely one of my favorite New York City parades, tied for first place with the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Like the Halloween Parade, the Mermaid Parade is an art parade that's free and open to the public to participate in. The majority of those marching in both parades make their own costumes and floats, and exemplify the creativity and free spirit of the New York that pirates like Billionaire Bloomberg are trying to sell off to the highest bidder.

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.

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a celebration of the sea and the sand and of all things Coney Island. You'll see participants dressed as scantily-clad mermaids and mermen, sea creatures, pirates and the occasional lighthouse. You'll see tattooed freaks and weirdos, drag kings and queens, burlesque performers and every manner of artistic self-expression.

Every year the Mermaid Parade features a different celebrity Neptune King and Mermaid Queen, who rule over the proceedings. In the past local celebs like David Byrne, Queen Latifa and Moby have graced the parade with their royal presence. This year I was pretty freakin' excited because the Neptune King was none other than Mr. Harvey Kietel. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a good picture of Mr. Kietel because that part of the parade sped past us. I also didn't realize that part of the duties of the King and Queen is assisting in the opening of the beach for the summer swimming season by cutting through ribbons representing the seasons, and tossing fruit into the Atlantic to appease the Sea Gods. I didn't go down to the beach for this part of the festivities. I probably could have met Harvey Kietel and asked him if he wanted to go get tacos.

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