“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.
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.