, Gloucester, MA

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July 4, 2013

Night of the 'Fishtown Horribles'

Rollicking parade features mermaids, store crews and more

Stray folding and beach chairs lined the Horribles Parade route by early Wednesday morning, with residents not wanting to miss the rumbling trucks, dancing kids, floating mermaids and bands of marching “Horribles.”

Bagpipes and sirens filled the quiet and drowned out the excited chatter and neighborly greetings by 6 p.m., as the floats began to roll through downtown.

A group of seasoned mermaids waved from atop a float labeled “Marlee’s Mermaids.” The women, all participants in a water aerobics class at the YMCA, curled Styrofoam dumbbells, and called out to their grandchildren in the crowd.

“This is a brave move for us to bare our bodies,” said Jan Bell, who donned an octopus-embellished hat. “We’re of the magical age, the age of we can do whatever we want.”

The annual Parade of the Fishtown Horribles stretched for more than an hour from beginning to end, with the last in line making its way past the Fishermen’s Memorial shortly after 7 p.m., when the lead participants were heading up Railroad Avenue. As always, the parade wound from its starting point off Centennial Avenue, out to Western Avenue, then through the downtown via Rogers, Manuel Lewis, Main, Pleasant and Prospect streets before crossing out Railroad Avenue to Washington Street, down Centennial and back to the school.

Marlee Nelson, the “fearless leader” of the YMCA water aerobics class and leader aboard the float, sported a full and sparkling mermaid tail and a shell bra decorated her tan shirt, her blonde locks flowing behind her.

Women in floral one-piece suits, stuffed hats, feathered gear and sun hats, bustled about the float, passing around the water work-out equipment and adjusting red balloons.

The parade included groups, local civic leaders and marching families — while the Jeffrey Stockman family, some of the parade’s most active participants, served this year as grand marshals.

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