Help Save the Coney Island Mermaid Parade!

7 May

So as I’m sure you’re aware, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade has filled the streets of Coney Island once a year every year since 1983 with glorious mermaids of every stripe and color. On this very blog I’ve interviewed parade founder Dick Zigun as well as inimitable parade queen Bambi the Mermaid, who really embodies the over-the-top joy and all-out giddy glitteriness of the parade:

bambi__parade

Unfortunately, said parade may not happen this year due to a severe lack of funds and one greedy hurricane named Sandy, which wreaked havoc on parade headquarters at the non-profit Coney Island USA (and Coney Island generally). You may not be aware of all the moolah and preparation such a mass parade requires (over half a million people!), but it doesn’t come cheap. Therefore, Coney Island USA has launched a kickstarter THIS VERY DAY to raise 100,000 smackers to save the parade. There are all kinds of gorgeous incentives; for 150 clams you can sit in the shaded, comfortable VIP section and get a prime view of the parade while all the other suckers sweat it out in the hot sun. For 2,000 smackers you can get that, a slew of other stuff, AND a bunch of signed limited edition prints by legendary photographer Harvey Stein. LIKE THIS ONE:

The Happy Mermaid by Harvey Stein

The Happy Mermaid by Harvey Stein

Really there are many many many options, each more delightful than the last. Go visit the Kickstarter page to carefully select your own mermaid package and help keep this gorgeousness alive—you have until June 3rd—and then tell all your friends and enemies about it, too. And THEN head out to Coney Island on June 22nd! Which, by the way, is the day after my birthday. Thank you.

Check out the Kickstarter video here:

For further clarification and incentive, I asked Coney Island USA Development Director Tim Pendrell a few penetrating questions. I MAY post more mermaid parade-ish interviews in days to come, if you’re very lucky.

So what does the Mermaid Parade mean to you?
This year will be the fourth Mermaid Parade I have worked on, if this campaign is successful. The Parade just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year to the point that it has outgrown the resources we have to put into it. It has become the biggest day in Coney Island and one of the largest events in all of New York City. It is a safe place for all of the strangest people in New York City to express themselves freely and after they do you often wish they hadn’t.

When did you realize this Kickstarter was crucial?
We’ve known for awhile that good news just wasn’t coming our way and we’d need to turn to the supporters of the Mermaid Parade to help support it. The Mermaid Parade is difficult for us in good times, but after the damage we suffered along with the neighborhood after Sandy it was just too much. It is amazing that our building is so close to reopening, but with the cost of the construction and the increase in cost of the parade, we simply needed help.

How much are you looking to raise, and what is it for?
Our campaign goal is $100,000 and we have a list of the expenses at savemermaids.org. Some of the expenses are obvious…insurance, judge’s stands, security…but other things like medical supplies, printing registration forms, t-shirts to identify staff are often overlooked. The Mermaid Parade is over half-a-million people and there are a lot of costs associated with keeping that safe and trying to get everyone a good place to view the parade from.

Why are you, personally, so passionate about keeping the parade alive?
It is really important for the parade to happen from an economic standpoint. People love the parade, but I am worried that without the parade kicking off the summer local businesses will suffer.

Aside from contributing to the Kickstarter, how can people help?
It is really important for people to spread the word about why they love the parade and how people can help it.

Another photo of Bambi, just because

Another photo of Bambi, just because

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