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The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island is set to make a big splash this year
The Mermaid Parade will return to Coney Island this weekend, rebounding just a year after the sideshow by the seashore turned to crowd-funding for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs.
More than 800,000 viewers are expected to float into Coney Island on Saturday to watch the kooky procession, which will include eight marching bands, antique cars, vintage hearses, a Good Humor truck and 3,000 participants dripping all manner of aquatic imagery. The strong turnout is a marked turnaround for the parade, which last year had to solicit donations after Superstorm Sandy flooded its Brooklyn base of operations.
Past participants have expressed their feelings about oil spills and ocean degradation in costumes and floats, and eco themes may surface this year as well.
"I expect to see at least one roller coaster marching down the street," in homage to Luna Park's new "Thunderbolt" thrill ride, said Dick Zigun, the Coney Island impresario who founded the parade in 1983 and continues as its artistic director.
That would likely come in addition to all the usual lobsters, starfish and semi-clothed sea nymphs, Zigun continued. Pirate and mythological garb are perennial favorites at the nation's largest "art parade," as are bathing suits -- and lots and lots of shimmery skin.
No word yet on what Queen Mermaid and King Neptune for this year's parade -- Chiara de Blasio, 19, (known for her creative costuming) and her brother Dante de Blasio, 16 -- will be wearing. "They've kept it a secret," said Zigun, adding, "we have crowns if they want them, but for all we know, they'll bring their own crowns."
The after-party at MCU Stadium -- home of the Brooklyn Cyclones -- will feature four live bands, a laser light show and a bawdy bada-boom burlesque act, added Debi Ryan, the development director of Coney Island USA. The general admission of $35, which helps fund the festivities, also includes "real bathrooms with running water," -- a welcome relief after a day of lining up to use porta-potties.
The weather forecast for Saturday is "mostly sunny," but the show will go on rain or shine. "It's always fun, either way," said Ryan. "They're mermaids: They're used to water!"