Coney island Mermaid Parade 6/22/13

As you’ll likely be aware, Superstorm Sandy ravished the low-lying coastal areas of New York and New Jersey, leaving a path of destruction that most residents have never seen before, and in some parts of the metropolitan area, people are still struggling to put their lives back together, nearly a year after the storm made landfall. 

At the corner of one of Coney Island’s most famous intersections – Stillwell Avenue and Surf Avenue, the site of Nathan’s, picture it being inundated with somewhere between 6 and 8 feet of water. And as Coney Island’s residents and businesses struggled to get back on their feet, there was a very real possibility that the annual celebration of all things summer, the Mermaid Day Parade may not happen – even up to about a week or so before the parade. But thankfully, the organizers of the parade were able to raise the much needed funds to run the parade. (We shouldn’t forget that the parade is probably one of two of Coney Island’s biggest events and it could draw anywhere between 750,000 to 1,000,000 folks to the area. Trust me, the local businesses and the amusement parks rely on it – and it means jobs for New Yorkers/Coney Islanders.)

And although the new development on Coney island makes an attempt to alter the area’s character, Coney island’s inherent seediness and in your face nature, always seeps out from under the surface. As a photographer, there’s something about shooting there I enjoy – there’s no place in the city quite like it; it has an energy and feel that’s quirky and at times surreal; but there’s also something about being on a beach on a summer day that’s just absolutely right. With that in mind, i was down at the Mermaid Parade, typically showing up more than an hour late, which allowed me an opportunity to walk through the crowd, take photos and push my way to the end of the parade route on the boardwalk. 

There’s just something about seeing this sign telling you that the next and last stop is Stillwell Avenue and Surf Avenue/Coney Island that feels right to me. Granted, from my apartment it’s an hour and a half subway ride, so I’m anxious to get up for once …

Wandering through the onlookers and other assorted groups of mermaids, and other revelers allows a great opportunity to get photos with people, and the great thing is that if you have a decent camera, people are more than happy to pose for you. 

Naturally, because it’s New York, a variety of religious and political views were on display, including this man. 

I didn’t know that mermaids can climb lamp posts but hey, it’s Brooklyn and I guess they adapt to all kinds of things, right? 

I had walked to West 16th and Surf Avenue, by MCU Stadium when I remembered that the parade route had been changed. For years, it would start near the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, allowing me an opportunity to get on the Boardwalk; but this year, they started at West 22nd Street and Surf and ended at West 10th Street. And that meant I had to walk back down to West 8th to be able to cross the street and get on the boardwalk. Ugh. But I finally made it, after somehow, cutting through a crowd of onlookers. 

Here a group of people were dancing near a gigantic and impromptu DJ set up. 

 i actually took a picture of this guy years ago outside of Nathan’s. His “costume” was exactly the same. 

A chef chasing a lobster. Guess who wins? 

The Occupy Wall Street Movement made it’s now annual appearance – albeit with only one person this year. 

The Reverend Billy made an appearance. I haven’t heard or seen of him in quite a bit. 

This man has better legs than roughly three quarters of the women I know. And he’s more comfortable in 6 inch heels, too.

I think a lot of New Yorkers actually feel this way. 

For these photos and more from this afternoon down at Coney Island, check out the Flickr set here: