On Saturday, Mermaids Will Reign on Surf Avenue in Coney Island

Good morning. It’s Friday. Today, and on Fridays through the summer, we’ll focus on things to do in New York over the weekend.

Daniel Murphy, the executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island, which represents neighborhood businesses and will have a float in the parade, said the spectacle is “the most conveniently located parade for a hot June day.” It will end with the ritualistic “opening” of the Atlantic Ocean by the king and queen of the parade.

Rinn, whose job description includes choosing the king and queen, said that the parade was “vibrant,” “welcoming” and “creative,” as well as an “artistic celebration of ancient mythology” in a neighborhood with streets named Mermaid and Neptune. He also called it “the coolest art parade in the country.”

That was before I asked: If you had to describe the Mermaid Parade to a Martian who had just landed and had no idea what it was all about, what would you say?

This was his answer: “Do you remember ‘Abbott and Costello Go to Mars’?” I didn’t, so he provided the briefest of synopses: “Abbott and Costello end up at a Mardi Gras parade. The Mermaid Parade is exactly that.”

He was referring to a 1953 sci-fi comedy in which Abbott and Costello eventually make it to Venus, not Mars. But first they land in New Orleans. That made the mention of an otherwise forgettable film all the more appropriate, he said: The parade began as a way to pay homage to Coney Island’s Mardi Gras, which ran from the early 1900s to the mid-1950s.

“Coney Island was really not in the best shape” when the parade started in 1983, he said. “I grew up here and hung around as a kid. I was at some of the early parades. The neighborhood was really on the verge of being decrepit.”

Things have changed in Coney Island since then, but one tradition has stayed the same: On Saturday, as always, the parade will be led by a king and queen. In 2022, the king was Dr. Dave Chokshi, who had been the city’s health commissioner until a few months earlier. In 2014, the king and queen were Dante de Blasio and Chiara de Blasio, the teenage children of Bill de Blasio, the mayor at the time.

This year the king will be Joe Coleman, an artist. The queen will be his wife, Whitney Ward.

Both are Mermaid Parade stalwarts. Rinn said he had admired Coleman’s work since he was a teenager. Ward has called the day of the parade “my high holy day,” and Rinn said the elaborateness of her sea-creature costumes was stunning.

“Some years, she’ll have custom fangs put in her teeth,” he said. “Other years, it’s prosthetics for her face. And mermaid tails? Hers are so much more elaborate and well made. There are some that are spectacular and some where it’s truly great that you try and we love it. Hers are on another level. Hers are real art pieces.”

The parade has judges who “will be looking for the best,” according to its website — the best mermaid costume, the best Neptune costume and the best sea creature, among others.

Weekend Weather

The hot and humid air mass known as a heat dome that has made New York swelter this week isn’t going anywhere, but there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the weekend. Temperatures will mostly be in the 90s during the day and will drop to the mid-70s at night.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until July 4 (Independence Day).


For more events in New York, here’s a list of what to do this month.


This weekend, an impresario with the website Death of Classical has arranged a concert in the catacombs of a cemetery in Brooklyn. The piece that the Ulysses Quartet will play tonight, tomorrow and Sunday (at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. each night) is Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132. As our writer Gabrielle Ferrari put it, “What better place to consider the fleeting beauty of life than among the hills, arches and tombs of Green-Wood Cemetery?”

It is a place with other musical connections. Leonard Bernstein is buried there, and a large mausoleum on the 478-acre grounds was built for the piano-making Steinway dynasty. Green-Wood, at 500 25th Street in Brooklyn, is also where the 19th-century virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk is buried. (He is said to have collapsed while performing one of his own pieces, “Morte,” or “She Is Dead.”)

Gabrielle says that Green-Wood is a particularly appropriate setting for the Beethoven piece. It was one of his last major works before his death in 1827. Beethoven had already lost his hearing by the time he wrote Opus 132 in 1825 and was worried that he was dying from an intensely painful intestinal illness. The quartet “charts the complex emotional geography of illness: from the rivers of pain the forests of fear to the miraculous plains of recovery,” she said.


METROPOLITAN diary

Dear Diary:

I had just moved to New York City from Los Angeles in June 1981 and had a studio on 106th Street and West End Avenue. It came with no furniture, dishes, pots or pans — nothing.

I was to start a teaching job in the fall but unemployed until then. I found a matching comforter-pillow-curtain set at Macy’s that fit my budget.

A few days later, on a weekend trip to the Lower East Side, I found the exact set for half the price. So of course I bought it and returned the other set to Macy’s.

A month went by, and the charge was still on my account. I made several calls to arrange the credit. Two months went by, and the credit still had not showed up. More calls.

When the third month came, my account was credited twice. I took the bills, the receipt and everything else I had connected to the purchase to Macy’s in person to try to straighten things out. When I got there, I explained the entire situation to clerk.

He looked at me like I was from another planet.

“Lady,” he said, “buy a dress.”

— Marla Jacobson

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


Glad we could get together here. See you Monday. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

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