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Women dressed in a costume for the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, the largest art parade in the nation.
Photograph: By Serge Yatunin / Shutterstock

Coney Island Mermaid Parade guide

Mermaids, mermen, and other glittering creatures strut down Surf Avenue during the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

Shaye Weaver
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

We hope you've been stocking up on glitter and nautical attire: The Coney Island Mermaid Parade returns to one of the best Brooklyn attractions for its 42nd year!

Thousands of spectators flock to Surf Avenue—Coney Island’s main drag—each year to watch King Neptune and Queen Mermaid lead a procession of glittering, semi-nude marchers in costumes during one of the best NYC events in June.

The annual event, started by Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun in 1983, has become a neighborhood mainstay. Read on for everything you need to know about the event, from how to join, where and when the parade starts, and more. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a whimsical and wild afternoon at one of the best New York beaches!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Coney Island in NY

What is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade? 

Half-naked mermaids and mermen and other creatures covered in glitter and scales invade the streets of Coney Island for this annual bacchanal by the sea. With thousands of spectators, it's known as the nation's largest art parade.

A woman dressed in pink florals for the mermaid parade.
Photograph: By Hoover Tung / Shutterstock

When is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade?

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is on Saturday, June 22, kicking off at 1pm.

Where is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade?

The Mermaid Parade begins at Surf Avenue and W 20th Street, traveling along Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk before ending at Steeplechase Plaza. For the best chance of getting a good spot, show up by 11am. Or if you’re willing to shell out $200, you can become a Coney Island USA member and snag a spot in the coveted Judge’s Stands.

Participants march in the 34th Annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, the largest art parade in the nation and a celebration of ancient mythology
Photograph: By Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

Who are King Neptune and Queen Mermaid this year?

Painter, performer, and sideshow historian Joe Coleman will serve as King Neptune with his wife and muse, artist/photographer Whitney Ward reigning as Queen Mermaid. 

For more than 30 years, King Joe and Queen Whitney have been Mermaid Parade stalwarts and frequent prize winners for Whitney’s over-the-top costumes. She's known to draw on darker, more ominous sea dwellers with costumes that delight and terrify onlookers.

"I've been a fan of Joe’s work since I saw an article about him in a horror magazine 35 years ago. Over the years, I got to know Joe and Whitney from hanging out in the judges’ reviewing stands at the parade and because they’re frequent guests at our fundraising events. They’re the perfect King and Queen," Coney Island USA’s Artistic Director Adam Rinn says. "They fully embrace all that Coney Island USA has to offer. Art, performance, and history. Plus they’re two of the nicest, talented, and most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met."

In keeping with tradition, the King and Queen will be wheeled through the parade in an antique wicker boardwalk rolling chair from 1923. Then, at about 4pm, Rinn will lead them to the beach at 19th Street and the boardwalk for a ceremony formally opening the ocean for the summer swimming season.

How can I participate in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade?

You still have 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.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade