Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What to expect at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Tips and Costume Ideas for Mermaid Day Parade 2011.

Mermaid day parade in Coney Island is the costume event I have been attending the longest in NYC. It is held around the first offical Saturday of summer. This year its June 18th. When I heard about this event I thought it might be too good to be true. Mermaids parading around on a historic boardwalk? Its like saying to a little girl, oh yeah I forgot to mention there is a farm about 45 minutes from Manhattan that breeds unicorns and once a year they all trot around in a parade.

Here is a quick recap of the costumes I have done for Mermaid Day Parade-

2006: Geisha mermaid. I sewed the kimono that morning out of a yard of fabric with an Asian print on it.

2007: Ghost mermaid. The first appearance of my long white wig that has played MANY starring roles in my costumes. I was brutally hungover this year. So much so that I spent a lot of time in the shade just hoping I would not barf on myself.

2008: Zombie Rag Doll Mermaid. I have no idea where I got this idea from but it is one of my all time favorites. The scar and stitches on my chest took me 2 hours to paint due to the awkward angle I had to look at it but it was worth it cause I love the pictures I got that day. Also decided that year that I love dressing as something scary when it is NOT Halloween. Fun!

2009 & 2010: Victorian Mermaid. I decided to revisit it the next year with a few improvements.

If you decide to attend the Mermaid Day Parade in costume and walk in the parade there are a few things to remember:

•It will most likely be warm and if it's sunny it will be HOT. There is no shade along the parade route so just keep that in mind if you were thinking of being a leather daddy merman. Ha! A lot of mermaids bring bright parasols. They are a great way to prevent your tail from drying out as you make your way back into the surf.

•I love day drinking as much as the next sea creature, but don't forget to hydrate. I did a bad job of that one year and felt terrible right after dancing my fins off on the parade route.

•Apply SPF before you do your makeup. Even the spray kind of sunscreen requires a little rubbing in so just do yourself a favor and put it on before your body glitter. As one of the whitest people on the planet, I apply SPF 75 or higher liberally before this event!

•Speaking of sun protection, it is common to find mermaids washed ashore with only their sea shells, a pair of pasties or even just body paint on their top half. This might be a draw for some but perhaps if you are bringing children, a fair word of warning is in order.

•In case of rain, the parade goes on! We found this out in 2009. In fact it makes people dance harder and lose their clothes quicker.

•Don't forget to get pictures with the ocean. When else will you have the chance to do your best Ariel imitation?! Climb out on that rock formation, not too far or the life guards will blow their whistles at you, and sing like you are longing to be "Part of Your World"!!
•Join a group. Arrive early and wander around the staging area on Street. It's the best place to get close up costume pictures of everyone and it's a total party scene. Ask people about their float or art car. Dance behind a float with music. Just try not to get in the way of people's dance routines. They worked hard to rehearse it without you!

•Be smart! As always plenty of police enforcement come along with parades in NYC. Don't be THAT drunken sailor.

Anyway if it is not already evident by my previous musings, the Mermaid day holds a special place in my heart. It's completely worth the long subway ride to Coney Island. Go with a group of Groupers, or a mob of Mermen, or a juggle of jellyfish. Dance, splash and welcome the arrival of summer with your fellow aquatic friends.

Register your group at the Official Mermaid Day Parade Site.
I will be staging with my Kostume Kult friends before the parade in my as of yet undecided costume. For updates and to come check out our float - follow me on twitter @Kostumegirl


  1. I absolutely love the zombie rag-doll look. Unfortunately I'll be missing mermaid parade (still haven't been) but I look forward to the pics of whatever you come up with this year, I'm sure it'll be fantastic!

  2. Thank you so much for the great tips and fabulous costumes! You're an inspiration and a joy to behold:) so glad I'm part of your make everything so much more festive and fun!