10 Free and Cheap Ways to Have a Little Mermaid Fun This Summer
Stylish teens are sporting "mermaid hair," princess parties are facing competition from mermaid parties, and stuntwomen are giving pricey mermaid lessons in Hollywood. There's a low-budget "Little Mermaid" film due next year and two big-budget live adaptations are being floated -- including one from Disney, whose 1989 animated version is still definitive. In short, these fishtailed females and their friends are everywhere. If the life of a mermaid is seeming more and more appealing as summer nears, here are 10 ways to celebrate this trend from Copenhagen to Coney Island.
Hundreds of thousands of revelers swarm to Coney Island for its start-of-summer Mermaid Parade (taking place June 18 this year) for elaborate sea-themed costumes and other kooky, crafty fun. "A major New York holiday invented by artists," now in its 34th year, the event draws inspiration from seaside streets with names such as Neptune Avenue and, of course, Mermaid Avenue.
There are boat rides, water slides, swimming and other family-friendly attractions at this 538-acre state park in Weeki Wachee, but it's famous for live mermaid shows offered most days since 1947. Audiences watch the underwater dance from a a 400-seat submerged theater. Admission for adults is $13, but children 5 and under get in free, making it a good destination for a young family.
Lawn seating is free for an adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" at Albany's Park Playhouse in August. The outdoor production features all the familiar songs from the 1989 animated Disney film and promises many more tunes new to the ear. Make sure to arrive early, as the lawn seating is first-come, first-served. Reserved tickets are $16 to $24.
For those in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is getting in on the mermaid parade action too, putting on its inaugural event July 30 -- a free party focusing on ocean mythology with the theme of "Under the Sea." Because this is Portlandia, with quirks and sensitivities made famous by the TV comedy series, it is predictably identified as also being a "gender neutral, body positive" event for the whole family.
A million tourists a year make pilgrimages to see this mermaid statue in Denmark, where fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen penned "The Little Mermaid" as part of a collection of stories in 1837. But if a trip to Europe isn't possible this summer, there are several closer mermaid statues to visit. The fountain at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, or a bronze statue installed in 2014 in Tarpon Springs, Florida, make stirring substitutes.
While pirates take top billing in a festival that descends June 25-26 on Belmont Pier, it's a mermaid festival as well, with mermaid olympics and a "Mertropolis" that provides lodging to about 50 "mermaids." It's a family-friendly event with a kids zone, costume contests, live entertainment, and much more. Admission is free, but bring some cash for food and merchandise.
Since downtown Tucson gets soaked every August by monsoons, resident David Aguirre decided to celebrate the wetness by turning the area into a mermaid wonderland with a festival and parade. Return of the Mermaids is technically an all-ages event with live entertainment, workshops, and an art and mermaid accessories market, but organizers warn that things tends to get racier as the evening progresses. This year's excitement is Aug. 13.
A fun photo-op for a party or fundraiser is a "stand-in" where people can stand behind an image of a mermaid and poke their faces through a cutout that puts their head on the mermaid's body. Crafty folks will find it easy to fashion one out of thick foam board from an arts supply store with instructions from The Party Animal.
If a group of kids need entertaining, plan a "Little Mermaid" movie night. It can be as simple as popping a DVD in and setting the kids up with snacks (Goldfish, anyone?), or adding a few decorations to set the mood, such as making a string of seashell lights using shells gathered on a beach. The plastic equivalent can be found online for $20 or less.
It's easy to find ready-made mermaid tail blankets to buy, but they can get pretty spendy. Instead, use instructions from Dukes & Duchesses to whip one up using fleece, which is inexpensive, flexible, soft, and comfortable. It's also a forgiving material to work with, even for those new to sewing.