Full of flash and fun, the Mermaid Parade, the nation’s largest art parade, celebrated its 36th year in Coney Island on Saturday, June 16.
Led by King Neptune Neil Gaiman and Queen Mermaid Amanda Palmer, this year’s event garnered the largest turnout in its history according to Dick Zigun, president of Coney Island USA, with an estimated 842,000 people in attendance to watch the creatively dressed participants, decorated cars and unique selection of floats pass by along the route from Surf Avenue and West 21st Street to the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 10th Street, and back to West 17th Street.
The parade was founded by Coney Island USA in 1983 as a way of bringing mythology to life for local residents while creating self-esteem in a neighborhood that is often mistakenly viewed as simply an entertainment area. Additionally, the parade allows for artistic New Yorkers to find self-expression in public.
The parade helps businesses in the neighborhood — both on and off the parade route — as well.
“The parade is a financial windfall for community businesses, not only amusements but even Totonno’s on Neptune Avenue,” said Zigun. “It’s the second busiest day of the year.”