Mermaids on Parade

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Fishtails, pirates, bubbles, trikes, mer-dogs, deep-sea divers, body paint
& Brooklyn.


      ew York’s last truly grassroots parade—or, rather, Brooklyn’s last…or, rather, Coney Island’s last—the Mermaid Parade is about as local as it gets, serpentining its way through that outpost of kitsch plus capitalism (well, minus the capitalism, in this case). No sponsors—just hot dogs, beer, homemade Lycra costumes and face paint. On June 22, 2019, for the thirty-seventh year running, the ritual commenced, where anyone can dress up (or dress down) as the mermaid (or merman) of her or his fantasy (or nightmare).

As the organizers describe it, it’s “the nation’s largest art parade…a celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside.” This year’s annual King Neptune and Queen Mermaid were Arlo and Nora Guthrie. Past royalty has included Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Moby, David Byrne, Curtis Sliwa and Queen Latifa. —Micah Garen

Compass Rose

Micah Garen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who has worked in conflict and post-conflict zones for the past fifteen years. Most recently, he has directed five feature-length films for Al Jazeera English, one of which won a Golden Nymph for Best News Documentary at the 2014 Monte Carlo Television Festival. His work has been published by Al Jazeera English, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Newsweek and the Financial Times, among others. His recent short film about the refugee crisis, “Light on the Sea,” launched in March on His short film from Afghanistan, “Call Me Ehsaan,” was a New York Times Op-Doc editor’s choice and screened at festivals. Garen filmed the Christmas Eve Raid scene in Iraq that was part of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911. In 2004, Garen and his interpreter, Amir, were kidnapped while filming in Nasiriyah. They were held for ten days before being released. Their story is chronicled in the dual memoir with Marie-Hélène Carleton, American Hostage, published by Simon & Schuster in 2005. The memoir received starred reviews on both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly. Garen’s work can be found at and (All photos © Micah Garen)

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