The Coney Island Mermaid Parade takes place every year in Coney Island, New York in mid-to-late June
The tradition of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade began in 1983, when the first event of this kind was conceptualized and organized by Dick Zigun, who is sometimes dubbed the "Mayor of Coney Island", and who was the founder of the non-profit arts group Coney Island USA
The Mermaid Parade is held in celebration of the beginning of the summer season, and so it traditionally takes place on the Saturday closest to the calendar start of summer, regardless of the weather
The parade pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras parades of the early 20th century. During this era, Coney Island was the primary amusement park destination for those in the New York area.
Like the much larger annual Village Halloween Parade, the Mermaid Parade embodies the spirit and artistry of Mardi Gras.
The event sometimes attracts a couple of thousand actual participants, along with hundreds of thousands of spectators, some of whom have traveled to Coney Island's beach primarily to escape the heat which often marks the beginning of summer
The Mermaid parade is well known for extraordinary marine costumes, and for the occasional partial nudity; it is legal in New York State for women to be topless in public
The parade is however very much a family event; it is quite common for at least one little girl's birthday party to march as part of the parade. There are sections in the parade for vehicles of all kinds, for floats, for groups, and for individuals. Mermaids and sea creatures of every shape and size are represented