PETA Mermaids at Coney Island

Each week, PETA’s campaigners publish a new post about their lives as they travel the country, fighting for animals. This week’s post is written by Ashley Byrne. 

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a Mardi Gras–like, aquatic-themed tradition that almost didn’t happen this year because Coney Island lost so much money because of damage from Hurricane Sandy. When I heard that the parade was going forward as planned, I knew that it would be a perfect, fun opportunity to teach people more about fish with the help of two gorgeous PETA “mermaids” and a message of compassion for sea life!

I recruited two lovely vegan volunteers, and on the day of the parade, we headed out to Coney Island, along with a million other people who came to watch and participate. Perched atop a decorated pedi-cab and squeezed into shimmering “tails,” the aquatic activists held signs reading, “Fish Are Friends, Not Food” and “Sea Life, Not Sea Food,” to remind the assembled crowds that fish and other sea animals feel fear and pain, just as we do, and that the best thing that we can do to help them (not to mention to keep our oceans clean and healthy) is to leave them off our plates.

The PETA mermaids were extremely popular—when we passed the reviewing stand, one of the judges actually ran out to high-five all of us! I walked alongside the lovely gals, giving out leaflets about fish and copies of our DVD “Glass Walls” to folks who wanted more information about going vegan, and answered lots of great questions about fish prompted by our “float.” At one point, when the parade stopped in place for a moment, a young girl who was staring at the cart said out loud, thoughtfully, “Fish are friends, not food.” Exactly! It was a long, crazy day that was very much worth it.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind