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The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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It was an appropriately wet day for Saturday’s Mermaid Parade, but a little rain wasn’t enough to make the bevy of topless mermaids cover up their pasties. It was my first Mermaid Parade, and from the pictures I’ve seen I was under the impression that it would be an endless train of half naked young women, but in fact I’ve never seen more older women wearing less clothing than I did that afternoon. What is it about parades and Halloween that produces this effect on the 50+ club?

But more fascinating than the paraders themselves (and the fact that Harvey Keitel was crowned this year’s King Neptune) are the people who come to watch them. Some costumes are pretty amazing in their meticulous attention to aquatic detail, but most are very, very DIY, right down to the athletic socks and New Balances. Regardless, most of the crowd is legitimately fascinated by the slightest twitch of a mermaid’s pipe-cleaner tail fins. And it’s often not enough to simply watch. As the day wore on more and more plain-clothed attendees donned a lei or a tiki hat and jumped the partition to strut their stuff.

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