Color and confetti at the Coney Island Mardi Gras

“Coney Island’s week of fun, the Coney Island Mardi Gras, which has become an established custom and brings to an end to each Coney season, began last night in a blaze of color and with much music and confetti,” wrote The New York Times on September 10, 1912.

It must have been crazy fun: thousands of spectators cheering dozens of parade floats along Surf Avenue on a late September night.

Revelers in costume marching along the floats, and a king and a queen were crowned every year.

The Mardi Gras started in 1903 as a fund-raising vehicle for the Coney Island Rescue Mission, which served “wayward” young women, according to John H. Kasson’s Amusing the Million.

[Photos: Bain News Service, 1910 or 1915 (top) and 1908]

It lasted until 1953—just about when Coney Island began losing its appeal as the city’s summer playground.

In its place we have the fabulous Mermaid Parade—itself inspired by the anything-goes craziness of the early 20th century Coney carnival.

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4 Responses to “Color and confetti at the Coney Island Mardi Gras”

  1. Greg Says:

    Coney Island’s Mardi Gras was not actually on Mardi Gras . .kinda lame, but I guess no one wants to go to the beach in March up here.

  2. Wystan Stevens Says:

    The top photo of the Coney Island “Mardi Gras” was taken in September, 1913, and is part of the Bain Agency’s September 1913 photostream, which has been posted on Flickr by the Library of Congress.

  3. Shawn M Adams Says:

    So with Mardi Gras (literally Fat Tuesday in French or Shrove Tuesday in English tradition) only a day away and the Mardi Gras season hours from starting, I decided it would be a great idea to write a little bit about the season and the events, where it all comes from and what the meaning of the whole thing is.
    Read More: http://www.shawnmichaeladamsonline.com/2011/03/mardi-gras-carnival-fat-tuesday-shrove.html

  4. Saturday Matinee: Bluto & Popeye, Kings of Coney’s Mardi Gras « Amusing the Zillion Says:

    [...] Island had a Mardi Gras celebration every September until 1954, but ATZ had no idea that Popeye the Sailor Man and his [...]

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