One of the summer’s biggest parties turned Coney Island into a sea of strange, beautiful, sometimes terrifying, often nearly-naked creatures over the weekend, as the 36th annual Mermaid Parade brought huge crowds to Surf Avenue and the iconic boardwalk on Saturday. Officials estimated that some 800,000 spectators would show up for the festivities, and prime locations by the rail were snagged as early as 6:30 in the morning.

This year the positions of Queen Mermaid and King Neptune went to rocker Amanda Palmer and writer Neil Gaiman, and the couple brought their son Ash (donning pajamas) along for the chariot ride.

Parade founder Dick Zigun led the hours-long procession as always, and after 35 years it seemed like he finally sprung for a new top hat. And many of the marchers who followed took did so in themed group costumes (the Salmon Witch Trials, the Ruth Wader Finsburgs, the Big Apple Babes, among them). There was plenty of rowdy music along the route (some groups had dance routines prepared) from the likes of the Hungry March Band and Fogo Azul.

Click through for a look at the mermaids and mermen in their mostly homemade costumes, basking in endless cheers on the spectacularly sunny Saturday afternoon. And if you've got time to kill, here's over two hours of video from the parade: