Coney’s famed Mermaid Parade canceled for a second straight year

August 18, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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One of Coney Island’s biggest and most eagerly-anticipated annual events has been canceled once again due to COVID.

The officers and directors of Coney Island USA announced Wednesday that the 2021 Mermaid Parade has been called off. 

It was announced earlier in the summer that the historic event, which wasn’t held in 2020, would not only return to Coney Island, but that it would close out the summer season on Sunday, Sept.12.

However, due to increased numbers in COVID cases and the rise of the Delta variant, those plans have been put to a halt.

“When we set the September date, we hoped that the parade, the largest art parade in the nation and a point of civic pride for Coney Island, would represent a return to normalcy. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not finished with us quite yet,” Coney Island USA, the non-profit organization that sponsors the event, said in a statement.  

This costumed character is almost certainly sad that the Coney Island Mermaid Parade has been canceled once again.

The Mermaid Parade, which first took place in 1983, celebrates the ancient mythological figures of the mermaid and Neptune, the god of the sea. It also pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras parades of the early 20th century. 

As always, it would have included marching bands; drill teams; floats; antique cars; and participants dressed in handmade costumes as mermaids, sea creatures, amusement rides and Neptunes. 

The likelihood of large crowds appeared to play a role in the cancelation.

“The parade draws hundreds of thousands to Coney Island every year, including large numbers of children, many crowding onto mass transit for the ride out to Stillwell Avenue,” the statement continued. “It is the centerpiece of the CIUSA calendar, and we are very proud of the positive impact that the parade has on our Coney Island community. 

“However, the risks to our sponsors, patrons, community and our wonderful staff — who have risen to every challenge — were too much to bear,” the statement said.

Last year, because the parade was canceled, Coney Island USA hosted its first ever Mermaid Parade Tail-a-Thon, an online telethon that featured costumed parade participants. Coney Island USA, which is dedicated to the cultural and economic revitalization of Coney Island, shared the donations with charities.

Many fans have taken to Facebook to express their sadness on the cancelation.

“Sad to not see the parade this year but better safe than sorry,” wrote one fan.

“I’m so sad,” said another simply.

Dick Zigun, the founder of the Mermaid Parade as well as the founder and artistic director of Coney Island USA, shared his thoughts on situation.

“We are so sorry, but we want all of you to be healthy and safe,” he said.

Coney Island USA promised that the parade will return next year.

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