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The 25th Annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade
June 23rd, 2007

Written by Janet Perisa
Photographed by Melinda Maclean

Too Hot to Handle

On the early afternoon of Saturday, June 23rd, the Coney Island bound F train was as crushing as a Monday morning commute into Midtown Manhattan. But the anticipation of the 25th annual Mermaid Parade had straphangers feeling euphoric, despite the overexposure to synchronized conversations, body heat and the dizzying scents of B.O. mingled with fruity lip balm. But as the train screeched into Stillwell Avenue station, the excitement settled as commuters gazed out the F train’s key-marked windows.

“I have never seen the [Parade] this crowded,” said one commuter as she exited the station. The avenue was flooded with spectators who were dressed, and underdressed, for Brooklyn’s biggest freak show event. Unfortunately, the best spots along the parade’s route were snagged by the early-birds, some of who have waited since 10 a.m. for the afternoon march. Many of the attendees, unable to get a glimpse of the bountiful floats and bare breasted beauties gliding down the parade’s route between West 10th and 16th Streets, were entertained by the masses of costume-clad ladies and gents that were hamming it up for the crowd.

But even the smoldering heat could not put a damper on the Coney Island’s Mardi Gras celebration. “I have been looking forward to the Mermaid Parade all year. Since it is the 25th anniversary, and with all of the controversy over the new development plans of this area, I think that’s what is drawing in such a huge crowd today,” said Earl, a resident of Lower Manhattan.

But despite the media frenzy and public outcry surrounding Thor Equities acquisitions of most of Coney Island’s theme parks, there are some New Yorkers that are optimistic about the new plans to reinvent this historical area. “I think it’s about time that they cleaned up this area: it will be good for the community and create better jobs for people,” said one Brooklyn resident.

Fortunately, the parade, funded by the not-for-profit Coney Island U.S.A arts organization, will continue their annual tradition, regardless of Thor Equities latest development plans, which include three beach-front hotels, time share units, arcades, and restaurants.

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For more coverage of this year's parade, see our article in New York Stories.


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