Summer camp–Mermaid Madness edition

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Armin Rosen reports on the weirdest place in New York’s w
eirdest event: yesterday’s Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.

Many a bare breast was on display at the 25th (and perhaps last) edition of the Mermaid Parade, Coney Island’s annual, nautically-themed celebration of the campy, t opless and strange. Indeed, Sodom by the Sea earned its permissive nickname yesterday, as legions of mostly-naked revelers in often-dazzling homemade mermaid costumes caroused their way down Surf Avenue, much to the delight of the thousands of sun and alcohol-drunk onlookers taking in one of New York’s more idiosyncratic summer traditions. Since this is a family Bwog, we’re obligated to say that there was more to the parade than artfully decorated mermaid mammary. Which is true, we suppose–after all, the parade is proof that when freaks and eccentrics, as well as normals of a freakish, eccentric bent have enough time on their hands the results can be spectacular. So here’s our best of the parade–photos and such after the jump.







One of the more impressive floats at the parade was this crank-powered pirate ship that terrorized Surf Avenue with a high-pressure water cannon.




Shrimp hats and accordions! Why didn’t I think of that?!?!  




But not all was shrimp hats and accordions: with a massive redevelopment plan in the works and Coney Island’s Astroland amusement park slated for closure at summer’s end, anti-Bloomberg sentiment ran high among some parade par ticipants. The slogans “Keep Coney Weird” and “Save Coney Island” were sported by many a parader, although real estate developer Joe Sitt’s plan to begin trashing the popular landmark this fall puts the future of Coney Island’s unique brand of weirdness in serious jeopardy. With another highly problematic redevelopment project on the verge of completely destroying downtown Brooklyn, it looks like Johnathan Lethem’s observation that the borough’s “residual low self-esteem” is being exploited by soulless real estate moguls is dead-on–yes, there was a marching band clad in loud, neon-orange “Save Coney Island” tanktops. But with the development controversy mostly in the background, the attitudes of most revelers–including this one–tended towards an unsatisfying combination of resignation and denial. Of course the Boardwalk’s massive pina coladas helped with both, although fittingly, the massive pina colada stand at 12th and the Boardwalk might not survive the purge…




No participants made a kitschier or more powerful social statement than this pair. And while I’m on the subject…how lame is that “Future of Coney Island” website I linked to a couple paragraphs ago? To start with, the skyline running across the top of the page only depicts structures that are protected historical landmarks, such as the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and the now-defunct but still-standing Parachute Jump. Nowhere do you see the indoor water park, timeshare units or high-rise hotels that have made the project so contentious. And how un-fucking-convincing is that comments section? Although to be fair, it seems like it was never meant to be convincing, and is only there to reinforce the message that nobody cares what the hell you think. That’s right, readers–it’s a comments page meant to crush public dissent. Orwell would feel vindicated…




On to cheerier topics–like mermaid families! In this blogger’s opinion, those kids have the coolest parents ever, or are totally scarred for life. The boy’s frighteningly realistic pirate snarl had me leaning towards the “scarred for life” option, although the parasol-toting mermaid girl seemed normal enough. Thoughts?




I can’t think of any better way to close out a blog post about the Mermaid Parade than with a picture of a giant crab battling a bearded lady. For the curious, crustacean and carnival freak fought to a near-draw, with the latter’s net-dress putting up a valiant defense against the former’s giant claw. Hopefully they’ll have a rematch next year–but what our beloved Sodom will look like by that point is anybody’s guess.

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  1. hi real brooklynite

    I don't want to get into the whole controversy about whether or not there should be redevelopment in Brooklyn, but, as someone who has lived in Brooklyn for her entire life, a couple of things:

    The statement "With another highly problematic redevelopment project on the verge of completely destroying downtown Brooklyn..." has to be somewhat of an exaggeration if you mean the Atlantic Yards Project as it is on the edge of what would be considered Downtown Brooklyn (Its destruction of Prospect Heights, For Greene, and Park Slope is far more questionable.) It is definitely far away enough not to completely destroy the businesses and offices in Downtown Brooklyn, a pretty large district, which looked perfectly fine when I was there today.

    Also, Coney Island is not the nicest or safest place in the world. About 2 generations ago, it was one of the most popular beach resorts in the Northeast & there is something to be said about bringing it back to be like that. I think a lot of people whose families have lived in Brooklyn for a long time have appreciated the improvements thus far like the Cyclones Stadium and the subway station that isn't dark, completely dirty, and falling apart.

  2. rjt

    The best quote in the comments section is, "WELCOME to CONEY ISLAND!" I like to imagine someone on that website in an internet cafe and just shouting that in ecstasy.

  3. mike  

    Sodom-by-the-Sea...VERY well played.

  4. Elna  

    The bishops are symbolizing "Gluttony" of the Seven Deadly Sins, note the red, lascivious mouths(instruments of consumption) and the dollar bill topped scepters.

  5. wirc

    The worthlessness of the THOR Equity plans notwithstanding, I think most of Coney Island is in need of the redevelopment, especially the non-historic parts of Astroland. Besides, most of the truly historic stuff has already been demolished.

  6. twice  

    The odd priest guys with the teeth hats/dollar signs marched in the gay pride parade on Sunday too as part of some gay spiritual retreat.

  7. ok, let

    me get this straight. you're going to do a big post on the mermaid parade and actually not show us any tits? five pictures and you can't show us the one thing this parade is famous for? gawker would. prudes.

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