Rhode Islanders have a lot of pride. We look after our communities, we’re creative when it comes to parades, and we embrace what we harvest from our waters. On August 26, the third annual New England Quahog Festival & Sea Creature Parade will highlight all of this and more, with proceeds going toward renovating the North Kingstown Town Beach playground.
The festival started a few years ago, when a group of kids in Nancy Rafi’s neighborhood mentioned wanting to put together a small parade. “All of the moms and dads at the bus stop started chiming in, and it started getting bigger and bigger,” says Rafi, who coordinates the festival and parade. She is a mastermind behind the event, which in its first year had an estimated 1,500 attendees. “Last year we had almost 4,000.”
The festival’s success is in large part due to its sponsors, who provide great local music, activities, food, and brews for the event. This year’s beer garden, sponsored by McKay’s Furniture, will include Whalers Brewery, Gooseneck Vineyards, and a highlight in the garden, called “The Drunken Mermaid,” which features Sons of Liberty’s Loyal Lemonade and some secret additions that will turn the drink a variety of cool colors as you drink it.
Other additions include a beefed-up food truck court and raw bar, provided by the RI Shellfisherman’s Association, and mermaid beach photoshoots with professional photographers.
Centerville Bank sponsors the Sea Creature Parade, along with a free costume-making day on August 18. “We’ll have artists and crafters with sewing machines and glue guns,” says Rafi. “Everybody should be able to participate, whether you have the funds to do it or not.”
Rafi has seen her share of pretty amazing and artistic costumes, from schools of sparkling jellyfish to entire crews of swashbuckling pirates. Prizes are given out for the best individual and group costumes. The Different Drummer in Wickford currently holds the title for best group costume with their six-person shark and scuba-diver duo and a massive, elaborate manatee costume.
Speaking of costumes, don’t forget to check out the hilarious 2019 Mermen of Wickford Calendar, which showcases business owners, philanthropists, and regular local guys sporting their prettiest mermaid tails. August 26, North Kingstown