Sunday, 20 June 2010

#19 Under the sea.

If you ever want to fall (back?) in love with humanity, go to a mardi gras. A parade. A carnival. Something camp and colourful and trashy.

This weekend Coney Island (the wonders of which I previously illuminated here) hosted the annual Mermaid Parade, a celebration of everything that is aquatic, oddball and technicolour. It was started in 1983 by Dick Zigun, whose life's work has been the preservation of American carnival and sideshow acts (and amen to that).

The place was heaving. Times Square on a sunny Saturday doesn't compare. I've not seen such a pulsating mass of humanity since India. They were thinner in India, though. And ate less hot dogs. Come to think of it, that's probably why they were thinner.

Against the backdrop of ferris wheels, rollercoasters and coconut shacks marched an unlikely cast of thousands - fetishists, drag racers, cosplayers, protestors, homosexuals, clowns, men, women and children. As the name suggests, a broad theme is the life aquatic - mermaids, jellyfish, and, topically, oil-covered environmentalists constituted the plurality. The crowd - at least four deep along the entire several-mile length of the Coney Island seafront - were the happiest group of people I ever did saw. We gawped, cheered, laughed, shared quips and beers with strangers, feasted our eyes and our stomachs.

All but the lone (as far as I saw) evangelical, holding a placard telling us to 'REPENT OF SIN'. Bless 'im.

So mark 18th June 2011 in your calendars, people, and no one will ever rain on your parade.

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