Since 1983, Coney Island's Mermaid Parade has taken place on the first Saturday nearest to the Summer Solstice. At its peak, this celebration of mythology, culture, and craft has drawn over 830,000 attendees, making it the largest art parade in the nation. People from the five boroughs, and around the world, make their way down Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in crazy and creative handmade costumes and floats. And each year, the procession leads a King and Queen of the Mermaid Parade to a beach ceremony that opens the ocean for the summer. This year, the anointed ones were Arlo and Nora Guthrie, the children of Coney Island resident and world-famous songwriter, Woody Guthrie.
People flock to Coney Island in the summer for all sorts of reasons—to eat hot dogs at Nathans, ride the Wonder Wheel, or catch a minor league baseball game. But the Mermaid Parade is the best showcase of the city's most magical destination. We took the Q train down to its first stop to check out this wild and inspired ocean-side celebration.