Monday, June 25, 2012

Culture: Mermaid Parade, Coney Island, New York City

Rio has its "Carneval", New Orleans "Mardi Grass", Köln (Cologne/Germany) the "Rosenmontagszug" and New York City the "Mermaid  Parade".  All events are an occasion to celebrate, to see and to be seen.

This year´s "Mermaid Parade", the 30th anniversary,  happened last Saturday in Coney Island, this is the southern point of Brooklyn, New York City.  The event is a part of New York´s culture - with a strong reference to it`s queer & freak subculture - and celebrates the begining of the summer season (wikipedia). Some call it a ritual to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

The media claim that roughly a half-million people gathered there. The miles long parade worm creeped through the huge amusement park, which makes Coney Island famous, and along the crowded beach.

This year again the event benefitted from subtropical temperatures (mid-80 F, 30 C). Many girls took the occasion and the freedom to show much of their beauty. You could see a lot of skin, sometimes camouflaged with fanciful paintings. The parade benefits from a New York law which permits women to be topless in public.

But there also were elaborate costumes and groups performing a studied choreography or playing rock music. Even an Egyptian princess had travelled through space and time to join the New York event.

Being a German, I was surprised how civilized the people behaved. Contrary to the sober American audience many people at Cologne`s "Rosenmontagszug" - and similar events -  drink a lot of beer and you can see a lot of drunks, especially alcoholized youth. The "Mermaid Parade" therefore was much more relaxed and playful than comparable German events. Bravo Americans!

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