Written by Natalie Shure
Thousands of mythical, dazzling (and scantily clad) sea creatures are about to descend on Coney Island. The annual Mermaid Parade, the largest art parade in the nation and one of the city's biggest festivals, kicks off this Saturday at 1pm.
Actor Mat Fraser, who reigns over this year’s parade as King Neptune, has a blunt question: “If you’re from New York and you haven’t been to the Mermaid Parade, then what the fuck?!?”
Fraser, best known for his role on American Horror Story, joins his wife, dancer and burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz, as the faces of the annual arts mainstay, which is expected to bring some 800,000 spectators and 3,000 participants to Coney Island this weekend.
Since the parade began in 1983, participants and revelers have donned elaborate, beglittered, ocean-inspired costumes, from sparkling pasties to second heads (see last year's photos for inspiration). Fraser describes the king and queen's costume inspiration as “if the mermaid parade was performed by an experimental ancient Aztec theatre company in the 1970s.”
Want to see the parade? The procession heads east along Surf Avenue from West 21st Street to West 10th Street, where it turns right for a block and then proceeds west along the boardwalk. Anyone who’d like to walk is welcome—you can register online or at the event (sign-ups begin at 10am). But if you're planning to dress up, Muz has a warning for you: The whimsical (and usually skimpy) adornments donned by midday merrymakers can beckon burns. “They come to be mermaids,” she says, “but they leave lobsters!”
You’ve been warned, Ariel wanna-bes.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade