De Blasio and family lead 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade

This is not a Seinfeld rerun, that's parade leader and mayor Bill de Blasio donning a puffy shirt. Photo by Rob Abruzzese

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Maybe we should call him Parade-Leader-in-Chief.

One week after becoming the first New York City Mayor to lead a Pride Parade, Bill de Blasio became the first mayor to lead the Mermaid Parade in costume when he marched down Surf Avenue dressed as a pirate with his wife and two kids in tow.

De Blasio wore a puffy pirate shirt and had a fake sword and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their daughter, Chiara, wore blue and gold mermaid outfits. Son Dante was painted blue as he carried a trident. Dante and Chiara were tabbed as King Neptune and Queen Mermaid of the parade.

Dante and Chiara de Blasio served as King Neptune and Queen Mermaid. Photo by Rob Abruzzese

The parade, which was first held in 1983, celebrated its 32nd year on Saturday.  While it was nearly canceled last year due to Superstorm Sandy damages, the parade went off without a hitch this season, with organizers reporting that there were over 100,000 people watching the more than 1,500 marchers in homemade costumes.

“I was in the original ones in the ’80s,” said Jean Balukus, who came with her mother Jingo Jo Balukas during the original parade. “I was a clown in clown alley. It was much smaller. You used to have to talk people into it and really twist their arm. You don't have to do that anymore.”

Jean Balukus went to the very first Mermaid Parade in 1983 with her mother and keeps going back in her memory. "I'm doing this for Jingle Jo," she said.

Although the parade takes place in Brooklyn, it draws people from all over the world.

“I think it's the kind of event that once you come once, you never want to miss it again,” said Cindie Leigh from Locust Valley. “My friend flew back from Abu Dhabi for this. It's an art event and an extraordinary visual. It's so rare to find the time to get all the people together where everyone is happy. It's pure joy. I will never miss it again.”

In addition to the many dressed up in homemade mermaid and mermen costumes, the Mermaid Parade features marching bands, drill teams, floats and antique cars. Photo by Rob Abruzzese

The parade is an homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras parades that were held during the first half of the twentieth century.  While the parade might have the reputation of being a mature-themed parade, each year it is a family event, with many children participating. In fact, the kids have as much fun as anyone.

“My favorite part is seeing the little kids dressed up as mermaids,” Alexis Troso from Long Island said. “You can just tell that some of them are having the time of their lives and they're going to want to come back every year.”

There were over 100,000 people lining Surf Avenue and the boardwalk to watch the 32nd annual Mermaid Parade.​ Photo by Rob Abruzzese

This woman was in the parade spirit with a snake around her neck. Photo by Billy Balardelle

This guy looks like he fits right in with the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere. Photo by Billy Balardelle

Think she has enough glitter? Photo by Billy Balardelle

We're not sure where her hair ends and her feather begins. Photo by Billy Balardelle

June 23, 2014 - 2:30pm



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