The Mermaid Parade is turning 30

The Mermaid Parade is turning 30
File photo by Tom Callan

This Coney Island parade is gaining in years, but isn’t losing its sense of humor.

The king of the 30th annual Mermaid Parade, the nautical-themed street festival along Surf Avenue that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the People’s Playground, is former Former Howard Stern Show head writer Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling.

Martling and his Queen Mermaid — an as-yet unidentified TV movie star — will lead the racy, Mardi Gras-style costume procession that kicks off the start of summer, said parade founder and unofficial Coney Island mayor Dick Zigun.

“We have an all-star lineup,” boasted Zigun, who has previously made King Neptunes out of such celebrities as the late Coney legend Rabbi Abraham Abraham, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Lou Reed.

The afternoon-long Mermaid Parade featuring antique cars, marching bands and semi-naked revelers covered by body paint, pasties and bikinis will end in a wacky beach ceremony meant to usher in the summer season one month after city beaches opened to the public.

“The ceremony combines West African voodoo and Caribbean culture with cheesecake Coney Island tradition,” said Zigun, who launched the parade in 1983. “The city and mayor opened the beaches in May. We’re opening the ocean.”

After the parade, mermen and sea nymphs — and regularly-dressed Coney fans — can continue celebrating at the New York Aquarium’s after-party, which will feature burlesque performances and a live DJ set from Grammy-nominated musician Moby.

Mermaid Parade [Starts at W. 21st Street and Surf Avenue in Coney Island (718) 372–5101, www.coneyisland.com]. June 23 at 2 pm. Free. The Mermaid Parade Ball will be at the New York Aquarium [602 Surf Ave. near W. Eighth Street in Coney Island, (718) 264–3474 www.coneyisland.com], June 23 at 7 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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