According the festival website, the march honors ancient mythology and seaside “honky-tonk rites” with 1,500 participants from across New York City.
As a reminder of the upcoming season, the event traditionally takes place on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice.
The Mermaid Parade has been a local event since 1983, commemorating both the summer solstice and the neighborhood’s quirky past.
Despite unusually low temperatures and uncooperative sunshine, the event returned to Brooklyn on Saturday.
The parade was technically “held” as a virtual event in 2020. The 2021 edition was postponed until September in a last-ditch effort to save it, but it was ultimately canceled.
Each year a new King Neptune and a new Mermaid Queen are installed. This year’s King Neptune was former New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, and the Mermaid Queen was Tony nominee and transgender artist Justin Vivian Bond.
Past honorees include folksinger Arlo Guthrie, Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s son, Dante and his daughter Chiara, Velvet Underground mastermind Lou Reed, Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne and actress/singer Queen Latifah.
The parade, according to Adam Rinn, artistic director of Coney Island USA, which organizes the event, has something for everyone.
“Imagine the best underwater safari you’ve been on, where there’s always something new to see,” Rinn remarked. “And don’t worry if you blink, because there are even more fantastic things to come.”
Sparkling schools of mermaids paraded in a dazzling array of pearls, jewels, fringed shells, sequins, scales and shimmering seaweed.
As marchers danced in the scorching sun and people shouted from the sidewalk, festive floats lined the parade route at Coney Island.
DJ Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel amusement park told PIX 11 that the parade is a “big party” and exactly what people need after the outbreak.
“COVID has brought out the worst in all of us,” he said. “It’s the best of us and a happy place.”