The Coneheads—who have been entertaining paradegoers on the East End since 1978—will once again be at the Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday; however, the group is missing the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.
According to John Murray of East Quogue, the “King Cone” and “Sir Cone-ium/Zirconium,” the Coneheads are bypassing Montauk for the first time since 1981.
“We’ve gone out to Montauk for several years but some of our keys guys have other commitments,” he explained. He assured that they will be back in Montauk in the future.
“We know we have a lot of followers and a lot of people who really like us out there,” Murray said. “We hear it when we go by.”
The Coneheads are a popular facet of both the Westhampton Beach and Montauk parades, as they spoof current events with pun-laden signs and costumes. This year, they are targeting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge scandal, with a number of marchers dressed up as traffic Cones. “We’re gonna try to reroute the parade a couple times,” Murray said. A few other goofs are planned, some he knows about, and some kept secret. “Some people, you don’t know what they’re going to be dressed as till they get there,” he said.
The Conehead tradition got its start in 1978. “I was walking along the street in New York City and we went by a costume place and they had this mask in there—this full Conehead mask,” Murray recalled. “My best friend was there and we were staring at it.”
A few days later, his friend bought the mask for him. Murray wore it in the Westhampton Beach parade that year with a sign saying, “Coneheads Are Irish Too.”
Each year, more and more people in Murray’s parade contingent wore cones. Now, multiple generations of Coneheads have been in the parade, with about 40 or so participating each year. “A lot of us original people now are MediCones,” Murray said. “We’re like 65.”
Some Coneheads just wear a cone atop their heads, while others—who may not want anyone to know about their participation as a Conehead—use the full face mask that Murray originated.
“The thing about the mask is it has a face that some people, when they see it, they don’t know what to say,” Murray said. “It kind of neutralizes them. I don’t think its scares them or anything, but it neutralizes them.”
That neutralizing allows the Coneheads to have some fun with their costumes, he said. Past themes have included “Conehead Social Network,” “Star Wars,” “An In’Cone’venient Truth” and “Occupy Sesame Street.”
One of their own, Donna Conti, is this year’s grand marshal of the Westhampton Beach parade. “Out of respect to her, we’re copying some of her Conehead characters,” Murray said. Her best costumes from over the years will be recreated.
The Coneheads will continue a number of traditions, such as the inclusion of Murray’s 1955 Ford truck and using the same trailer for their parade float, to the back of which is hitched a “pig trailer.” That is, a barbecue that cooks a whole pig while they march, so they can feast at the end.
Possible the biggest spectacle the Coneheads have made outside of the parade was in 1993, when they all planned to go to the Coneheads movie premiere. The film was supposed to play at the movie theater on Main Street—which is now the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center—but it was canceled. So, they put on costumes, met at the Hampton Arts Cinema and marched to the Main Street movie theater. But it was hot under those cones, Murray said. They stopped at A&P to cool off in the frozen food section before proceeding to the theater, where they were not welcomed. “They were holding the door shut and they called the police,” he said. But when the cops came, they said the Coneheads were doing nothing wrong and left them be.
View the Eastern Long Island parade schedule.