Beach Life Highlights

Mermaid Parade

The Annual Mermaid Parade became an addition to Coney Island’s bawdy traditions in 1983. The event was founded by the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA. This organization is also responsible for the Coney Island Circus  Sideshow.

It is the biggest art parade in the United States, and a very popular summer event.

In June of every year, the spirit of the area’s forgotten Mardi Gras is conjured when participants celebrate nature, along with Coney Island’s history and art. The beginning of summer is marked by self-expression in that many people come in costumes they, themselves, created. Some wacky outfits incluye sea creaturas, lighthouses, post cards, amusement rides, marching bands, and more.

Mermaid Parade in June: addition to bawdy traditions of Coney Island.

A new King Neptune and Queen Mermaid are chosen every year to be present at the next year’s ceremony. They then ride in the parade, and help open the ocean for the summer. Fruit is thrown into the Atlantic as an offering to the Sea Gods, and the King and Queen cut ribbons that stand for the seasons.

A Mermaid Parade Ball is then thrown for the participants. The attendants buy raffle tickets, dance to live music, and watch New York’s burlesque and sideshow stars perform.




The nearly 1,200 lifeguards on the Coney Island Beach have a somewhat intriguing history. According to legend, a Parks official traed to deal with lifeguard shortages in WWII by recruiting trained dolphins. In a way, that is how we can think of the men and women who now hold these posts.

Between 1929 and 1965, Commissioner Moses oversaw many changes in the Park system, including the development of a harsh lifeguard training program that is still used to make these workers the best they can be.

In 1969, the height, weight, and gender requirements for lifeguards were changed.


Since then, more people have been able to prove that they can handle the requirement of swimming 50 yards in 35 seconds. The minimum age of 16 was never altered, and all lifeguards must have a minimum 20/30 vision in one eye, and 20/40 in the other.

Perhaps it is due to the vastness of the ocean that the standards for Beach lifeguards are so much higher than those for pool lifeguards. Locating quality employees for this daunting task has become so difficult that the Parks department recruits lifeguards from other countries.

Shorefront Environmentalism

The Beach environment is very fragile and storms are a costant fear. They can cause numerous problems, probably the least of which is restricted beach access.

Storm damage, public safety, litter, water quality, and erosion are a big city, state, and national problems. A close watch is kept on these issues by the Health Department, and by governmental institutions on from local to national levels.

Oil spills, run-off from storm sewers, and medical waste can also cause environmental issues that keep swimmers from being allowed to enjoy their summer.

Despite incidents such as the waste spill from a water-treatment plan in 1976 that caused several beaches to close for a period of time, both Parks and their visitors have begun to realize that the environment is a crucial element to consider.

A coastal ecology program has been established near 8th street, and the divers haul up crabs, starfish, mussels, and many other kinds of animals that are released back into the wild alter examination and explanation to onlookers, especially children.

Urban Park Rangers, who arranged the program, also attempt to Project Piping Ployers that attempt to get to Rockaway in the spring. Since visitors of the park disturb this endangered bird’s habitat, Park Rangers have made it safe for visitors and birds to be in the area simultaneously.


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