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Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 20, 2009. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade gets rolling on Saturday at 1:00pm. The free event is one of the most hugely crowded days of the year in Coney Island. If you’re not marching, where are the best places to spectate and take photos? Anywhere along Surf Avenue from the parade’s starting point at West 21st Street to West 10th Street, where it turns to go onto the Boardwalk. You’ll miss the antique cars and motorized floats if you opt for the backdrop of the Cyclone on West 10th and the seaside atmosphere of the boardwalk. This year, the parade disbands at Steeplechase Plaza, where the Parachute Jump is located on the boardwalk at West 17th Street.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 19, 2010. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

ATZ asked photographer Barry Yanowitz, who grew up in Coney Island and whose splendid photos from past parades are featured in this post, to share his strategy for Saturday. “On the parade route itself, my favorite spot is across from Nathan’s – that makes a great backdrop. The only problem is that this spot gets very crowded very fast so you have to stake out a spot early.” Yes, it bears repeating. GET THERE EARLY. Latecomers will not be able to navigate due to the crowds and crossing Surf Avenue while parade is in progress is iffy due to NYPD barricades.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Spectators stand on scaffolding on north side of Surf Ave. at Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

“My favorite part of shooting the Mermaid Parade is actually not on the parade route itself,” says Barry. “It’s all the activity around it before and after! I love all the behind the scenes moments of participants getting ready and casually hanging out in Coney Island in their costumes.”

The best place to take photos before the parade is the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm. “You do not have to make reservations to take pictures on West 21st Street. You just have to pay $20 in advance or day of, CASH ONLY,” according to Coney Island USA’s handy set of Mermaid Parade FAQs. “If you are Working Press with an NYPD Press Pass, you can enter the West 21st Street staging area for free.”

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Staging Area, June 18, 2011. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

One of ATZ’s fave viewing spots is from the judges’ reviewing stand, where paraders stop to do choreographed dance numbers for “Mayor” Dick Zigun, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid and bribe the judges with goodies. You can buy a judgeship –yes, only in Coney!– for the price of a $150 “Big Spender” membership with non-profit Coney Island USA, which produces the parade. The judgeship entitles you to VIP seating on the canopied reviewing stand (Surf Avenue, between West 19th and 20th Streets), a Mermaid Parade Judge T-Shirt, and bribes.

“This year, instead of one, there will be three official stopping points for marchers to do their routines,” says Meryl Vladimer of Coney Island USA. The performance stops are the judges reviewing stand at 20th Street, in front of Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, and in front of Coney Island USA at Surf and West 12th Street.

After the parade, everywhere is a good spot, as mermaids and pirates cavort on the beach and boardwalk, have a drink at Ruby’s Bar, and go for a spin on the rides. If you can’t make it to Coney on Saturday afternoon, there’s the Mermaid Parade Ball from 6pm till midnight at MCU Park. General admission is $35, VIP for $100 available online only.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Related posts on ATZ…

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 16, 2011: Last Chance to See Mermaid Parade Before It Turns 30!

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Coney Island Fireworks

Fireworks on Coney Island Beach, July 19, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Readers are already starting to ask about this year’s fireworks, so here you go: The first Friday night fireworks show of Coney Island’s 2014 season will be on June 20, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. Sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, this free weekly event continues on Fridays through August 27. Friday night fireworks start at 9:30pm and are shot off from the beach. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot, Steeplechase Pier, reopened in October after being rebuilt post-Sandy.

UPDATE: On June 27th, the Mayor’s Offices announced that there will be a special Fourth of July Fireworks show in Coney Island at 9:45pm on the Beach and Boardwalk near West 21st Street. July 4th is on a Friday this year and a special permit was required due to the holiday.

The Brooklyn Cyclones also have fireworks inside MCU Park on the following six Saturdays after their home games as well four other days, including the team’s Opening Day, Saturday, June 14th, and June 16 and June 17. This year every Saturday night fireworks show will have a special musical theme. Fireworks at MCU Park start when the game is over, so the time varies and is sometimes later than 9:30. Since the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Fireworks are shot from inside their park, best viewing is within and close to the stadium, which is between W 16th and 19th Streets.

Saturday, June 14 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES HOME OPENER – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Monday, June 16 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Tuesday, June 17 – vs. Hudson Valley Renegades – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 5 – vs. Aberdeen IronBirds – Seinfeld 25th Anniversary Celebration – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 19 – vs Williamsport Crosscutters – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 26 – vs. Vermont Lake Monsters – Elvis Presley Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 2 – vs. Connecticut Tigers – Star Wars Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Wednesday, August 13 – vs. Lowell Spinners – Kosher Kaboom Fireworks
Saturday, August 23 – vs. Tri-City Valley Cats – Princess Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Sunday, August 31 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Fan Appreciation Day -Post-Game Fireworks

When the weather is iffy on a day when fireworks are scheduled, or if the show is delayed, check the Coney Island tweeters on Coney Island Fun’s list for updates. Thanks to People’s Playground photographer Jim McDonnell for his splendid photo of one of last summer’s fireworks shows.

Related posts on ATZ…

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

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Taylors of Edinburgh Funfair

Taylors of Edinburgh Funfair at Kirkaldy Links Market, Europe’s Longest Street Fair

“For most of us it’s the start of the season,” says a showman in this 1983 video of Scotland’s Kirkcaldy Links Market, Europe’s largest street fair. This year’s fair opened on Wednesday and runs through April 21st. The nearly mile-long midway along the Esplanade in Kirkcaldy, Fife, has over 130 rides as well as sideshows, games and food stalls.

A trader’s market has been held annually on the Links of Abbotshall since 1304. Some of the showmen, estimated to number over 1,000, have played the fair for generations. If a spot opens up, the Showmen’s Guild of Scotland assigns the location.

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 21, 2013: Traveler: Osteria Ai Pioppi’s Homemade Amusement Rides

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

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