NYC Mermaid Parade Protests BP and Also Features Lots of Glitter

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Although I love living in New York City year round, summer is truly an exceptional time for New Yorkers. Mets fans like me and Paula Satorius of Kudos & Flowers can rejoice in, uh, another season that will probably end poorly. Street fairs and carnivals abound, as amply documented by Mommy Poppins. (22 onesthat are good for kids in June alone!) And the event that ties all of this together takes place on Coney Island (home of the Coney Island Cyclones, a minor league team of the Mets): The Mermaid Parade.

Megan Neil (L) and Erin Burrows dress as oil-covered mermaids as they protest the BP oil spill disaster dress as they march in the annual Coney Island Mermaid parade on June 19, 2010 in New York. The aquatic-themed parade which began in 1983 celebrates the beginning of summer. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff) Photo via Newscom

Although the parade, billed as “the largest art parade in the United States, usually takes place on the Saturday following the vernal equinox, this year’s extravaganza was held this past Saturday, June 19. MissMoll at Wandering & Pondering said it is something that every New Yorker should experience at least once. I missed it (again, which is getting to be a huge bummer), but Katia at Pardon Me for Asking offers at good summary (“The floats and the costumes were fun and imaginative as always. Though certainly a spirited affair, many an 'oil' covered mermaid or sea creature in the parade confirmed that the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf was a common concern.”) and some awesome pictures. (I missed an elephant! I’m so pissed!) This year’s parade was judged by King Neptune Lou Reed and Queen Mermaid Laurie Anderson.

I love the parade for its spectacle -- the costumes are clever and homemade, the themes are always witty -- but also because it is so political. I marched in the parade during the Bush years, and it was impossible to swell with civic pride at my fellow citizens as they used sea themes (or literally no clothes at all) to protest the disbanding of civil liberties. It’s great that this year was no different.

Floresita notes that the parade is, “generally Mermaid themed and bare breast-friendly. Which means it generally draws lots of happy old guys with zoom lenses.” Yeah, that always creeped me out. I will point out, though, that the boob-happy photographers don’t only focus on women. One year my husband went as a hula girl. He is a very, very hairy guy. People loved him. One guy loved him so much that he ran up to my husband and took a close-up shot of his chest in a coconut bra without asking. Creepy.

The Mermaid Parade is one of those great things that make New York the place I want to be. I’m hopeful that I’ll be marching in next year’s parade. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the pictures and all the great blog posts about the day.

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and is the author of Off the Beaten (Subway) Track.

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