The Mermaid Parade FAQ
What day is the Parade?
Saturday, June 22, 2013, rain or shine.
Who is this years King and Queen?
What time does the Parade start?
The Mermaid Parade starts at 1 PM!
What time does the Parade end?
Hard to say, but it usually wraps up at around 4:30 PM or so. Immediately after the last participant passes the review stand, parade founder Dick D. Zigun leads the King and Queen procession through the MCU Parking Lot to the beach for the opening of the Ocean for the summer swimming season. We hope you'll join the procession. Mermaid Parade winners will be announced at The Mermaid Riverboat Ball.
Where does the Parade take place?
The Parade will start on West 21st and Surf Avenue. It will roll East to West 10th Street, the marchers and push pull floats will go to the Boardwalk and march to Steeplechase Plaza, where the Parade will disband.
Where’s the best place to watch the Parade?
That’s entirely up to you. Many people like to watch the Parade on the boardwalk, but the boardwalk only features marchers and push-pull floats. Surf Avenue allows viewing of antique cars and motorized floats as well. If you choose to watch the parade on Surf Avenue please understand that crowds are getting as thick as those in Times Square on New Year's Eve and similarly you might find yourself locked into a pen behind steel NYPD barricades unable to leave, breathe or go to the bathroom for a few hours. If you think that you may not want to stay for the entire parade, we recommend that you stand on the North side of Surf (non-beach side), as getting to the subway or crossing Surf can be difficult, due to crowds.
Is it ok to bring kids to the Parade?
The Mermaid Parade is an art parade and is for everyone, just keep in mind that some folks will be dressed as Mermaids and Mermen who, let's face it, aren't historically known for wearing much clothing. That being said, we've always had a ton of kids in the Parade, (even a little girl's Birthday party or two!) but it's entirely up to you as a parent or guardian to decide what you feel is appropriate for your kids.
I want to be in the Parade! How can I register?
You can register on-line via our website, or on site on the day of the parade, beginning at 10 AM. On site day of registration is CASH ONLY.
Check In/Registration - Push-pull floats and marchers will register at Surf Avenue and West 21st Street. Motorized floats and antique cars will register by the Surf Avenue Sidewalk at West 19th and West 20th street.
How long can I register online?
Online registration will be available until 11pm on Thursday, June 20th.
What time do I have to get there?
This is entirely up to you. Registration opens at 10 AM and the Parade rolls out at 1 PM. You can come as close to 1 PM as you’d like, but be aware that traffic on the Belt Parkway can come to a standstill and that the registration line grows longer, the closer it is to 1 PM. Don’t get crushed by the rush! 11 am may be a good time to arrive.
How do I get to Coney Island?
The best way to get to Coney Island is to take the D, F, N or Q subway to Stillwell Avenue. The Coney Island amusement area is also accessible via Exits 6 and 7 on the Belt Parkway..
I’m coming by car. Where’s the best place to park?
Are you nuts? The Mermaid Parade is Coney Island’s busiest day of the year and the traffic is terrible. Having said that, the New York Aquarium and MCU Park both have parking lots, and there are a number of private lots between Surf and Neptune Avenues and West 8th Streets and West 17th Streets. Coney Island USA strongly encourages people to make use of the mass transit system.
I’m coming from Manhattan. How much is a taxi from Midtown?
More than $40. You’re better off taking the subway.
I’m coming in from out of town and need an address for GPS directions. What should I use?
For Coney Island in general, you can use 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224, for the Registration area you can use the intersection of West 21st Street and Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224.
I want to be a judge at the Parade. How do I do that?
So you want to be a judge at the 2013 Mermaid Parade with V.I.P Seating and a coveted Mermaid Parade Judge T- Shirt? It's simple, become a Member of Coney Island USA at the "Big Spender" Level. Click here for info.
Where is the Judges Reviewing Stand?
It is on Surf Ave and W 20th Street. At this location you can hear parade commentary from our MC, Chris T (from WFMU and Sirius XM) and his sidekick Richard Eagan.
Are there winners in each category and where is this announced?
Yes our esteemed judges determine who the winners are in each category. Winners are announced at The Mermaid Riverboat Ball (The Official After Party of the Mermaid Parade).
What's this about bribing the judges review stand on W. 20th Street?
Our Judges are paradigms of fine jurisprudence, and as such actively discourage all bribes. Having said that, in year's past there have been isolated incidences of bribery. And coincidentally it seems many of those proffering the best bribes seems to often go home with the top awards. And it is also a coincidence that many of those awards appear to be a bit greasy -- this clearly being a function of the culinary delights of Coney rather than some kind of metaphorical greasy palm. And while our Judges certainly prefer a handmade objet d'art, they never turn their nose at a delicious baked good or a fine bottle of whiskey. And we're only supplying this info as a "fun fact" -- it is in no way a solicitation. And observers have noted that while the judges stand is often well equipped with bottles, it seems to often be short of cups and ice. Again just another factoid to share. Finally, the many young people on the reviewing stand certainly enjoy candy, toys, noisemakers and other joyous items.
I'm building a float that's a 1:1 model of the Parachute Jump. Will I have clearance to march it on the street?
According to many-time Queen Mermaid Kate Dale, dimensions for floats should follow these rules of thumb:
The narrower of the ramps is 8' wide to the inside of the rail, but no more than 6' of width is recommended and 5'6" would be preferable.
The hard cut off is approx 9'6" or so. A wire across 10th Street Ramp is 10' off ground, but with slope, clearance is less than that.
The steeper of the ramps is approximately 5" to 1' incline, so people should prepare for that in terms of weight and tippage.
Conditions change, so it's always best to walk the route with a tape measure yourself.
How about Some Costume and Parade Tips?
Antique cars and motorized floats. What's the registration process and route?
Antique Cars will drive down Surf Ave. past 10th Street and then depart along Surf Ave.
Motorized Floats will roll down Surf Ave., past West 10th Street.
As with last year, the following restrictions are in place:
1) all cars must show proof of insurance
2) No one may burn rubber or spin tires. This comes directly from the Police. Please do not burn rubber or spin tires, or you will be taken out of line and issued a summons. That's a bad way to end a good day.
3) No one is permitted to ride on the hood of a vehicle or in a trunk. Sorry. Again, straight from the police.
4) No one is permitted to drink alcohol in a motorized float.
I want to bring my dog/cat/other pet to the Parade. Is that ok?
Coney Island USA does not have a policy regarding animals in the Parade. However, asphalt does get hot, which can be ouchy on the pads of little canine/feline feet. Please keep that in mind if you are thinking about bringing your furry friends. Please also remember that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach. Don't ask us why...we don't make those rules.
I'm not a part of a group, marching band etc., just an individual who wants to march in the parade, is there a place for me?
Of course! You don't need to be a member of a group to be in the parade, just register yourself in the appropiate category.
How do I volunteer for the parade?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you.
I’m going to miss the Parade!
It’s ok…you can buy merchandise in our online gift shop.
Who puts on the Parade?
We do! Coney Island USA the resident not for profit arts center in Coney Island. We are headquartered at 1208 Surf Ave between West 12th street and Stillwell Ave. You can help support the parade by supporting all of our programs throughout the year, buying merchandise at our giftshop, having a beer, soda or bottled water at the Freak Bar! And another great way to show your appreciation is to become a member of Coney Island USA! Memberships start at only $35 and include free admission to the sideshow and museum!
I want to buy a Mermaid Parade T-shirt day of. How do I do that?
T-shirts will be available from Coney Island USA roving vendors along Surf Avenue and at our new and expanded gift shop at 1208 Surf Avenue!
Don’t buy bootleg merchandise or shirts that say Mermaid Day, Mermaid Parade Day or an other variable! This only lines the pockets of individuals who are exploiting the Parade for their personal gain. The Parade is an expensive one to put on and we'd appreciate it if you would buy our official merchandise. Our T - Shirts say The Mermaid Parade with a small TM (Trademark logo).
What’s the deal with taking pictures of the Parade. How can I arrange that?
Anyone can take pictures of the parade from the sidewalk as it goes by on the street. If you want to take pictures of the staging area from 10:30am - 12:30pm, on West 21st Street, you will be charged $20 to enter the staging area. If you are Working Press with an NYPD Press Pass, you can enter the West 21st Street staging area for free.
There is also a Press Pen across from the reviewing stand on Surf Avenue that will open at around 12:30 PM.
You do not have to make reservations to take pictures on West 21st Street. You just have to pay $20 in advance or day of, CASH ONLY.
Can I get a Press Pass that gives me special access to cover the Parade?
No, we do not issue special press passes. The NYPD handles press passes for members of the media. Click here for info.
I'm going to stand in the street in front of the reviewing stand and take pictures or video because I'm very important and I don't care what anyone says. I might also stand in the middle of the route and take pictures or video and hold up the Parade. What do you think about that?
If you obstruct the Parade, security will bodily remove you. We're running a parade and don't have time to think about your portfolio, your hobby, your video project or how expensive your camera is.
I have a lot of photos of the Mermaid Parade and am thinking of doing a book about the Parade. Who do I talk to about that?
You would need to talk to Coney Island USA. The Mermaid Parade is a property of Coney Island USA, and use of the name is forbidden without expressed, written consent of Coney Island USA.
Furthermore, we are required by law to protect the trademark. We know that people love the parade, and we appreciate it, but showing love for the parade by trying to make a buck on it is bad karma and will cost everyone a lot more in legal bills than they will want to pay.
I sell products that your patrons might like. How do I find out about setting up my own sales table?
Coney Island USA does not provide space for outside vendors during the Mermaid Parade; it’s a parade, not a street fair, which is one of the reasons why the community board likes us so much! Vendors wishing to set up tables on the boardwalk must contact the Parks Department, which is responsible for licensing all concessions on Parks Department property; vendors wishing to set up tables on sidewalks must contact the individual property owners and have a sidewalk vending permit. Please do not think about setting up in front of our building on Surf Avenue and West 12th Street! Thank you.
What's up with the Mermaid Parade Ball? Where is it?
This years Ball takes place on a Riverboat with party buses to and from Coney! Click here for details.
When is it?
After the parade, 21 and over
What's the deal with the tickets?
Tickets can be purchased online. Please buy early as last years Ball sold out. Advance sale ends Friday, 6/21 at 11:59pm Eastern Time. Day of (first come, first served) Cash Only, at the Shuttle Party Buses on West 21st Street (between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk) beginning at 5pm.
Who's performing that night?
Click here for details.
View Mermaid Parade Route in a larger map
* The Parade will start at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue
* The Parade will roll east to West 10th Street
* At West 10th Street the Parade will turn south towards the boardwalk
* At the Boardwalk, the marchers and push-pull floats will turn west and head towards West 17th Street.
* At Steeplechase Plaza, the Parade will disband.
PUSH PULL FLOATS AND MARCHERS will register at Surf Avenue and West 21st Street.
MOTORIZED FLOATS AND ANTIQUE CARS will register at Surf Ave. Sidewalk at West 19th and West 20th street.
Because West 21st Street is much narrower than our old staging area (West 10th Street), you will NO LONGER be able to PULL YOUR TRUCK OR VEHICLE to unload materials for assembling your push-pull cart or costume. But, DON’T WORRY- you will be able to assemble your cart in a secure location with vehicle access on Surf Avenue between West 21st and West 22nd Street. You may then push you cart onto West 21st Street.
About The Mermaid Parade
The Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation. A celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 1,500 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit and community pride. The parade highlights Coney Island Pageantry based on a century of many Coney parades, celebrates the artistic vision of the masses, and ensures that the summer season is a success by bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the amusement area in a single day.
The MERMAID PARADE specifically was founded in 1983 with 3 goals: it brings mythology to life for local residents who live on streets named Mermaid and Neptune ; it creates self-esteem in a district that is often disregarded as “entertainment”; and it lets artistic New Yorkers find self-expression in public.
Unlike most parades, this one has no ethnic, religious, or commercial aims. It’s a major New York holiday invented by artists! An American version of the summer-solstice celebration, it takes pride of place with West African Water Festivals and Ancient Greek and Roman street theater. It's features participants dressed in hand-made costumes based on themes and categories set by us. This creates an artistic framework on which artists can improvise, resulting in the flourishing of frivolity, dedication, pride, and personal vision that has become how New York celebrates summer.
The 2013 parade will still highlight our ability to mix high and low culture on the beach, as we partner with several Bensonhurst-based muscle car clubs, the Hungry March Band, and our celebrity King and Queen (not yet identified, but past royalty have included Laurie Anderson, Moby, Jackie “the Joke Man”, and others). It will include floats by participants as well as our sponsors and community partners (including the New York Aquarium, Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and Luna Park).
But 2013 will be a critical year:
- The budget is changing: 2012 was our largest turnout ever (750,000 spectators!), straining our ability to control it. We’ve found an outside production company to run the logistics of the parade and coordinate with the police, the community board, etc.
-The infrastructure of the community is changing: We’ll begin earlier and will change the staffing of the assembly areas to address the increase in the crowds, the expansion of the business district along the boardwalk, and the new businesses on Surf Ave.
-We have a chance in the next few years to create new traditions and lock in new facilities. For 30 years, the parade has been an improvisation between the arts and the neighborhood’s iconography. When the Parachute Jump was decaying, we celebrated its history by making the parade an annual stroll and survey of art and architecture. We were the first to bring people back to the grounds of Steeplechase Park… to the Childs Restaurant Building… to bring the performing arts to the Aquarium… Now, working with the Alliance for Coney Island, we will help move the center of gravity to the west by beginning and ending the parade near the new Steeplechase Plaza with restored historic attractions like the Parachute Jump and B&B Carousell. Our ribbon cutting ceremony will also refocus on theatrics as it moves away from sunbathers and to the west of Steeplechase Pier.