Tag Archives: parade

Gripster: 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade & Greek Mermaid Myths

20 Jun

I hit the beach for the first time this year for the 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade.  I’ve been going for a few years now, so I was kind of surprised when friends asked me what it is.  It’s pretty much what it sounds like.  It’s kind of like an all-mermaid version of the Village Halloween Parade.  A lot of the outfits are scandalous, but the parade is so much fun!

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is the world’s largest art parade.  It was founded in 1983 by the same not-for-profit arts organization that produces the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.  The official website describes the Coney Island Mermaid Parade:

The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression. The Parade is characterized by participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed.

You probably know that Neptune is the Roman version of the Greek god Poseidon, the god of the ocean.  (If you’re curious about Poseidon, check out my blog entry “Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth.”)  What I was curious about was mermaid Greek mythology.  I always think of the sirens that the cunning Odysseus outwitted as mermaids, when in fact they’re actually half woman, half bird.  So what does Greek mythology actually say about mermaids?

According to myth, Alexander the Great’s half-sister is a mermaid.  Thessalonike was born to King Philip II of Macedon and his concubine, Nicesipolis, in 252 or 345 BC.  According to legend, Alexander the Great bathed Thessalonike’s hair in life-giving water that he retrieved on his quest to find the Fountain of Immortality.  When her older brother died when she was only nineteen years old, Thessalonike tried to drown herself.  In death, Thessalonike transformed into a mermaid, according to legend.

Mermaid Thessalonike lived in the Aegean.  She stopped ships, asking, “Ζει ο Βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος?” (“Is King Alexander alive?”)

If the passing ship answered, “Ζει και βασιλεύει και τον κόσμο κυριεύει” (He lives and rules the world), she calmed the waters.

If the ship answered anything less positive, she caused a severe storm that would spell death to all sailors.

I took some 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade pictures.

I hear 2011 is the year of the mermaid trend.


2011 Greek Independence Day Parade

29 Mar

Who made it out to the parade on Sunday to celebrate Greek Independence Day?  My sister and I went after brunch.  It was a great day for a parade.  The sky was a bright, bright blue and the sun was shining.  It was a bit brisk to be standing on the sidelines, but I’m sure those marching in the parade enjoyed that it wasn’t hot out.

Our favorite part was seeing the little kids all dressed up in their Greek costumes.  Seriously adorable!

I also rather enjoyed seeing the Greek-American women who insisted on marching in high heels.  It was quite a few blocks up Fifth Avenue to be clomping around in heels, but they remained stoic.

Greek men and women of all ages layered blue and white clothes on, wore Hellas t-shirts they probably picked up in Plaka, and draped the Greek flag over their shoulders. Super-hero style!

Here are a few pics.





Victory Hellas!

25 Mar

Happy Independence Day!  I fully realize in this chilly weather that today is not July 4.  March 25, however, marks the 190th anniversary of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Greece was a strong empire, impacting language and culture around the world for much of ancient history.  Even after Greece fell to Roman rule, Greek thought and influence remained strong.  However, in 1453 the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire.

On March 25, 1821, Metropolitan Germanos of Patras raised a revolutionary flag under a tree outside of Agia Lavra, a monastery in the Peloponnese.  This wasn’t the first clash between the Greeks and the Ottoman Empire in those 400 years.  The Turks had burned monastery, which was built in AD 961, to the ground in 1585.  The Greeks rebuilt it in 1600 but then the Ottoman Empire armies of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt destroyed the church in 1715.  The Greeks rebuilt it again, and in 1821 Germanos gave an oath to the Greek fighters and raised the flag.  Pasha’s army destroyed Agia Lavra again in 1826.

The War for Independence lasted nine years.  Finally, on 1829, a small part of Greece was liberated.  Slowly, other parts of Greece were liberated.  On July 21, 1832, the Treaty of Constantinople, which put the Greek borders in writing, was signed, and on August 30, 1832, it was ratified.  Still, it wasn’t until after World War II that other Greek lands were returned to Greece.

You can read my full article on the church where the revolution began in my Church Hopping column on Burnside Writers Collective.

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Get out your blue and white… in New York, the Greek Independence Day Parade will be taking place this Sunday, March 27, beginning at 1:30.  The parade goes up Fifth Avenue, starting at 64th Street until it reaches 79th Street.

If you can’t get there, you can watch it on WWOR TV Channel 9.  It will be anchored by Greek-Americans Ernie Anastos, Nick Gregory, and Nicole Petallides.

I’ve attended the parade many years, and when I was a kid I even got to ride on one of the floats!

Read my write up on the 76th Annual Greek Independence Day Parade in New York that took place a few years ago on Daily Frappe for more insight on the history of the parade and Greeks life in America.