If you've never heard of the Mermaid Parade, you wouldn't be the first I invited with the response, "Um. What is that?" The largest art parade in the nation, it invites individuals in New York City (and the boroughs and beyond) to celebrate the Summer Solstice by gallivanting throughout Coney Island and it's oceanside dock dressed as mermaids (and mermen... merpeople, really). Thousands of people come from throughout the area to participate, creating a spectacle full of nipple pasties, mermaid tails, jellyfish umbrellas and pirate costumes. Founded first in 1983 and invented by local area artists, it's hailed as the Summer Solstice celebration for New York and highlights the uniqueness of the people who flock here.
I will say this: the Mermaid Parade is not for the faint of heart. There are so many nipples / side boobs / under boobs out, you'll think it's totally normal for everyone to walk around topless. Also, there are men on the side of the street set up with drink stands, making those long obnoxious plastic containers full of pina coladas, margaritas, and daiquiris for everyone and their brother. The reason why the Mermaid Parade is the exception to the "I Hate Parades" rule for me is the same reason why I think New York City houses some of the best people in the world - because here, no one is ever afraid to be unapologetically themselves. Especially when that means that they can wear copious amounts of glitter.