Coney Island Mermaid Parade: A guide to NYC's seaside spectacle

Get your costumes ready: Find out about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, which marches down Surf Avenue each year.

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Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi


The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is one of NYC’s freakiest, most iconic events. Each year, thousands of spectators flock to Surf Avenue, Coney Island’s main drag, to watch King Neptune and Queen Mermaid—this year, Mayor de Blasio's kids, Dante and Chiara—lead a procession of beglittered semi-nude marchers in costumes through the neighborhood. Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun began holding the parades in 1983, and it’s been a neighborhood mainstay ever since.

RECOMMENDED: Coney Island and Luna Park guide

We spoke to Zigun about how he picked this year's King and Queen. "Sometimes we look for counterculture celebrities, sometimes we’re working political connections," He says. "But the choice of Dante and Chiara was not political. It is my thinking that they are the perfect representatives of the next generation of New York City residents. They represent the young people in their teens and twenties who come to Coney Island."

Some refer to the event as the Mardi Gras east of the Mississippi River, yet it may ultimately be about much more than that. “Mardi Gras seems like it’s just tourists getting drunk,” says burlesque performer Bambi the Mermaid. “When you’re at the parade, you’re part of it, not just watching. The Mermaid Parade to me…is like the high holy day of the whole entire year."

When is the Mermaid Parade?


The 2014 Coney Island Mermaid Parade happens June 21 at 1pm; it begins at Surf Ave and W 21st St, traveling along Surf Ave and the Boardwalk before ending at Steeplechase Plaza. (A more detailed map is embedded below.) For the best chance of getting a good spot, show up by 11am—or, if you’re willing to shell out $150, you can become a Coney Island USA member and snag a spot in the covered Judge’s Stands (on Surf Ave between W 19th and 20th Sts).

Want to participate? You’ve still got time: There are various registration levels—for families, “artsy marchers,” antique cars and more—and different fees apply for each one. All the details are available at Coney Island USA’s website—and be sure to stop by one of our favorite costume stores beforehand to get all the supplies you’ll need for a glitzy, glittery outfit.

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Mermaid Parade 2013

  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Mermaid Parade 2012

  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Mermaid Parade 2012

  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Mermaid Parade 2012

  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Mermaid Parade 2012

  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Mermaid Parade 2012

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Mermaid Parade 2011

  • Photograph: Carl Saytor

    Mermaid Parade

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

  • Photograph: Carl Saytor

    Mermaid Parade

Photograph: Luciana Golcman

Mermaid Parade 2013

Coney Island Mermaid Parade map


View Mermaid Parade Route in a larger map

Where to eat and drink near the Mermaid Parade

Nathan’s Famous

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 1310 Surf Ave, (at Stillwell Ave), 11224
More info

Grimaldi's

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. 1215 Surf Ave, (between Stillwell Ave and W 12th St)
More info

Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Boardwalk, (between Stillwell Ave and W 12th St), 11224
More info

Totonno’s

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 1524 Neptune Ave, (between 15th and 16th Sts), 11224-27
More info
See all bars & restaurants near the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Things to do near the Mermaid Parade

  1. Surf Ave, (between Ocean Pkwy and W 37th St)
More info

Coney Island Cyclone

  • Price band: 1/4
  1. 834 Surf Ave, (at 8th St)
More info

New York Aquarium

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Surf Ave, (at 8th St)
More info

Luna Park

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 1000 Surf Ave, (at W 10th St), 11224
More info
  1. 1025 Boardwalk, (at W 12th St)
More info

MCU Park

  • Critics choice
  1. 1904 Surf Ave, (between 17th and 19th Sts)
More info

Sideshows by the Seashore

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 1208 Surf Ave, (at 12th St), 11224
More info

Coney Island Museum

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 1208 Surf Ave, (at 12th St)
More info

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