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Make way for the mermaids! Coney Island USA gears up for 42nd annual Mermaid Parade

Clear the Coney Island boardwalk! The historic stretch will soon play host to the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 22, as costume-clad Brooklynites prepare to partake in the peninsula’s most popular summer celebration.

Coney Island USA, an art-centered non-profit and sponsor of the beachside event, is inviting mer-men and -women to participate in the parade and float procession that always brings smiles to the crowd.

The Mermaid Parade invites anyone to dress up in costume and strut their stuff down the boardwalk. Adam Rinn, artistic director of Coney Island USA, said the tradition, which started in 1983, is now considered a must-see event for both residents and tourists are alike.

Grab your fins and sew on your fish-nets for the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on June 22.Grab your fins and sew on your fish nets for the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on June 22.File photo by Erica Price

“It’s such a glorious spectacle,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “Art is a big word. It’s a big field. There’s performance art, there’s music, there’s theatre. We really try to find people who will fit that role and do a great job of it.”

Each year, sponsors are tasked with choosing a king and queen to lead the procession. Rinn and his team aim to choose people who he says represent New York and its vibrant art scene.

This year’s mermaid monarch is Coney Island artist Joe Coleman and his wife, Whitney Ward. Coleman has made a name for himself as a performance artist but more commonly as a painter whose highly detailed work can sometimes take him years to complete. Ward has racked up a couple of awards at previous Mermaid Parades for her flagrant sea-creature regalia.

Fans will be lined up for blocks to get a peek at their costumes come June 22.

“They’re such a perfect couple to be leading the parade this year,” Rinn said. 

Mermaids say cheese and strike a pose during the annual fin-tastic march along Coney Island's most popular avenues.Mermaids say cheese and strike a pose during the annual fin-tastic march along Coney Island’s most popular avenues. File photo by Erica Price

The 2024 Mermaid Parade will step off at 1 p.m., rain or shine, starting on West 21st Street and Surf Avenue. Marchers will then make their way to West 10th Street, where mermaids and floaters will split. The crowd will continue down the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk until Steeplechase Plaza and Parachute Jump, the official ending of the march. 

Afterward, participants and viewers can stick around for a post-parade ceremony on Coney Island Beach.

Rinn said people still have time to register to be a part of the sea fare festivities, with just a little over a month left before the big day. Coney Island USA is also still welcoming sponsors to help host the parade.

“It costs a lot of money to put on a parade. As a small not-for-profit, every single penny counts,” he said, adding that every sponsorship they get supports the organization’s long-standing presence in Coney Island. “It goes towards parade production, staff, and whatever we have left over goes towards the organization to maintain our 107-year-old landmark building and the programming we have within.”

For more information on the 42 annual Mermaid Parade, visit Coney Island USA’s website

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