Whalemina’s Return

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At some time in the late 20th Century, the late Sal Arena, an avid Rockaway citizen and dedicated Rockaway Beach Civic Association member, came to me with an odd request. He wanted help bringing the iconic grey whale from Central Park Children’s Zoo to our beach.

Sal discovered that the New York City Parks Department was finally renovating The Children’s Zoo—and the whale was out—he secured her move to the beach. I was willing to help fix her up, if allowed to decorate her with a mosaic of local fauna and flora from beach to bay. At first there was resistance to this idea, until, after her move from park (Central) to park (NYC Beach), she quickly deteriorated.

We rallied different organizations and individuals, private and public, young and old. Over the next two decades or so, Whalemina was decorated and celebrated by thousands of beachgoers and locals alike…until Sandy took her away.

With support from the local people of Rockaway and the not-for-profit Projects of Peace, a new Whalemina has been created.

Special thanks go to the late Billy Taylor, whose generosity knew no bounds. Whalemina will make her debut appearance at The Coney Island Mermaid Parade this Saturday, June 16, before making her way back to her beloved Rockaway Beach. Watch out for her in the neighborhood.

-Geoff Rawling, Artist and founding member of Rockaway Mermaid Brigade

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