41st Annual Mermaid Parade marks the start of summer
June 22, 2023 Beth Eisgrau-Heller
Jolene Oldham (left), “Empress of the Sea, Mermaid Pearlie Mae” with Tom Nolz (right) delighted everyone with her ingenious and elaborate costume. Photo by Beth Eisgrau-Heller/Brooklyn Eagle
CONEY ISLAND — On Saturday, mermaids, mermen, pirates, sirens and sea creatures of all colors, shapes, sizes and genders marked the official opening of the summer season at the 41st Annual Coney Island USA Mermaid Parade.
Rainbow Pride flags abounded and several groups mummed in support of LGBTQIA rights. This year’s King and Queen were Rapper, Kool Keith, and NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Laurie Cumbo.
Having been delighted by their performance at Montague Open Streets in Brooklyn Heights our photographer Beth Eisgrau-Heller chose to embed herself with the Hungry March Band (HMB). She wanted to bring their over twenty-five-year history full circle.
HMB was founded in 1997 specifically for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. They have no one founder and their ranks have rotated throughout the years.
Emily Fairey is the longest-standing member of Hungry March Band and plays the tenor saxophone. She marched in her first Mermaid Parade in 1999 or 2000.
“As you can see [the parade] is a big event for the community…it’s about the music, the costumes, the families in all the ways that count,” she said. “It’s a way to interpret the sea from a uniquely urban perspective.”
Usually dressed in their red and black signature colors, HMB masqueraded as a school of orange, black, and white clownfish for the occasion.
The Brooklyn Eagle captured their energetic performance and the cast of characters around them as they danced and entertained the crowds down Surf Avenue and onto the boardwalk.