Desert rats flocked to the sand in Joshua Tree, California, transformed into sea-loving creatures for a day of marching on scorched earth followed by rounds of mud wrestling and self-reflection.
Later, long after the sun had fallen away, a fellow mermaid glistening in the moonlight washed off the mud caked to his body while sitting in an inflatable pool and proclaimed, “After a night of many answers I only am left with questions. I’ve tasted the God’s blood. I sipped the sweet disaronno of this land – he put it in my cold brew. I bathed in the sweet pool of the mermaid horde.” And with that, the once bedazzled mermaid stood before us a mere man, and together we shed our personas and removed sunbaked makeup, only left to dream about the same day, next year.
Artist Aaron Sheppard recently hosted the second annual Bearded & Shucked Mermaid Day Parade, in honor of the Coney Island tradition. Sheppard (Joshua Tree) and Erin Stellmon (Baltimore), both former Las Vegans, collaborated on last year’s first procession through Joshua Tree, California, and shared their memories of Coney Island and the parade with Settlers + Nomads. Mikayla Whitmore participated in this year’s event and the original photo essay was published on Settlers and Nomads.