Coney Island’s Annual Mermaid Parade returned Saturday with thousands of costumed revelers and onlookers packing Surf Avenue and spilling onto the nearby boardwalk. Dancers, musicians, painters, sculptors and masterful posers turned out in droves, giving the day’s battalion of photographers endless moments to capture. 

It was the parade's big comeback after the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the beloved event in 2020 and 2021. Organizers of the event said they were ready for a release of all the creative energy the mermaids had to hold onto for two whole years.

Elena Borghi visited from Venice, Italy, and said she felt right at home being surrounded by all the fanfare.

"The vibes are amazing," she said. "You cans feel the energy. This is something about New York, I think that the energy is real, you can touch it almost."

The day’s costumes ranged from classic mermaids and sailors to more elaborate space aliens and sea dragons, with the usual groups of classic car fans, street vendors, and buskers turning up to elevate the day into one of the most over-stimulating occasions on New York City’s summertime calendar.

More than 3,000 participants made their way down Surf Avenue throughout the afternoon Saturday. Leading the parade was the event's Queen Mermaid, performer Mx Justin Vivian Bond and King Neptune, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, former health commissioner for New York City.

Carolyn Cryan was part of a group whose theme was an "enchanted mer-gaden." She said, for her, the parade was all about inclusion.

"It's about community, and finding your fellow freaks, you know," she said. "What you would tell somebody that has never been here before is, 'expect anything.' The more outrageous, the better."