Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day Fifteen - Mermaids on Parade

June 21 - The girls got up at what for them was an ungodly hour so we could catch the 9:09 New Jersey Transit train from Hamilton, NJ to Penn Station in New York City. Sac was not as cooperative as she guided us to the neighborhood of the station, but not actually to it. Kallie rescued the trip, but not before we missed the 9:09 train. Fortunately, the 9:37 was close behind and took us to the station in NYC in a brisk hour and fifteen minutes. From there we found our way via the F train to Brooklyn and Jason and Beth's apartment in another 1-1/4 hours, arriving at about 12:10.

After a break for lunch we headed back to the subway for the ride to Coney Island, where the 26th annual Mermaid Day Parade was underway. A beach version of Mardi Gras without the beads, the parade and a beautiful Saturday afternoon attracted an amazing throng of people to Coney Island. We couldn't get close enough to the parade (a procession of antique cars at its beginning) to see it, so we snaked along with the mob heading toward the beach. This was a good decision--the beach was relatively open since almost everyone was at the parade. On the way we gazed in awe at the big countdown board at Nathan's World Famous Hot Dog Stand--just 12+ days until the next hot dog eating contest on July 4. Last year's champion, American Joey Chestnut ate an amazing 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes, in the process dethroning Japanese champion and previous recordholder Kobayashi, who suffered from a brief "reversal of fortune" before finishing second.

After sitting on the sizzling sand for a few minutes, we moved closer to the water to watch Beth and Lilybeth go in the water. The cool sea breeze was a nice relief. The water was a little too cold for anyone but four-year-olds and their devoted mothers.

A little later Kay and I retreated in search of a beer. By this time the parade was over. The crowd around Ruby's Bar was crushing--we wormed our way into what turned out to be the food line, only we didn't want food. Kay found the beer line. Beers in hand we inched toward the back of the bar where we actually found a couple of seats in front of a TV tuned to the Eurocup game between Holland and Russia. The Russians won in the second overtime just as we turned around to leave.

Along the way I took pictures of a wide variety of underdressed mermaids and mermen (and men dressed as mermaids--I'm not sure if there were any maids dressed as mermen). The competition to create the costume using the minimum amount of clothes was fascinating. Sales of blue body paint had to be at an all-time high.

Kallie and Erin headed off to ride either the Wonder Wheel ferris wheel or the Cyclone roller coaster, the two adult rides remaining from what was the splendor of Coney Island. The lines were so long that they rode neither, but they did get Cyclone t-shirts.

The subway trip back to Jay's neighborhood seemed a lot shorter than the one from Pennsylvania to Coney Island, partly because I slept for some of it after absorbing a beer and an afternoon's worth of sun.

I agreed to go out for dinner, but only if the sidetrip to do so was very short. We ate at Enzo's on Prospect Park Ave, a relatively new Italian restaurant just a block from the subway station. The food was served family-style with a few non-damaging glitches--mainly the food showing up before the plates or utensils. Annabelle and I ducked out early for ice cream. She ate every bite of a cup of vanilla; I did the same to peaches and cream.

Back home I didn't last long before collapsing on a bed. It's Sunday morning now. In NYC tradition, we had bagels for breakfast. Later today we'll see Wicked on Broadway and head back to Pennsylvania to spend the night.

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