Mermaids on Parade

Having lived in New Orleans and experiencing Mardi Gras for the full season has kind of ruined me for other parades?how can anything else really compare? But I?m not anywhere near ready to take my kids to Mardi Gras. While researching 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You?re 12! I discovered some epic parades that seemed equally out there, but possibly more kid-friendly, tops among them the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, which will be held this year on Saturday, June 19.

I?m not sure everyone would consider this a kid-friendly happening. The event is billed as an art parade, and reflects all the attendant outrageousness that comes with a lot of creative people trying to out-do each other. That takes the form of a lot of body paint (and sometimes little else) and other bacchanalian attire and behavior. However, lots of kids do come to the parade, many dressed up as well: it?s up to parents to decide what they?re comfortable with. This year, über-cool couple Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed are the Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. Man, I would love to see that.

Meanwhile, a smaller scale yet no less creative Mermaid Parade will happen this weekend in Marshall, North Carolina. Marshall is one of those artists? enclaves that?s still ?undiscovered? enough to retain its quirky feed-stores-next-to-artist-studios edge. The 3rd Annual Mermaids in Marshall parade will include rides in an art-car type mermaid carriage, music, and a parade to Blannahasset Island (an island in the middle of the French Broad River that?s home to a high school turned art studio complex).

The only other mermaid parade I could find in the US has taken place in North Webster, Indiana for 65 years. Looks like it?s a complete 360 from the one in Coney Island, with a real small mid-western town feel.

Meanwhile, next month, we?re planning to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine: going to see the Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida. I love its 1950s old Florida roots and I?m glad it hasn?t been Disney-fied yet.

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