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Mermaid Parade Kickstarter

In an article about Coney Island for Islands Magazine’s “Best Beaches” issue in 2000, I asked “How are mermaids different from mortal women?” A siren wearing little more than a sequined fishtail and a sprinkling of glitter looked me in the eye and said, “Mortal women don’t have the boom-boom shimmy-sham that mermaids possess. For another thing, we have all that fantasy on our side.” Everyone who comes to Coney Island partakes in that fantasy. It’s hard to imagine kicking off the summer in Coney Island without the Mermaid Parade, but it could happen for the first time in 31 years unless $100,000 is raised via Kickstarter by June 3rd.

Best Mermaid Kate Dale

Three-time “Best Mermaid” Kate Dale on Purple Sofa Float in 2008 Mermaid Parade. June 21, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island USA, the non-profit arts organization that puts on the free parade, was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Its sideshow, burlesque shows and Freak Bar have yet to open for the season as renovation of the flood-damaged first floor is underway. While Coney Island’s rides, games and Boardwalk shops and eateries opened as usual on Palm Sunday, Coney Island USA’s theater has remained dark. With no revenue coming in, there’s a budget shortfall in the mermaid department.

Amy Winehouse Mermaids

Amy Winehouse Mermaids sing They Wanted Me to 2 Go CONDO but I said NO NO NO in 2008 Mermaid Parade. June 21, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“A free parade is expensive,” says the intro on Kickstarter. “As the crowds have grown to 750,000 people over the past years, we’ve had to contend with more regulations and restrictions that have sharply increased the cost of the event.” The good news is the crowdfunding campaign to save the June 22nd event has already raised one-third of the $100,000 goal with contributions ranging from $1 to $250. But Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding model. The project must be fully funded for the parade to be saved. Thank you gifts include freak flags ($5 or more), pasties and tote bags ($40 or more), and a VIP spot on an elevated roof deck to watch the parade ($150 or more).

Lollipop and Candy Memaids

Lollipop and Candy Mermaids in 2009 Mermaid Parade. June 20, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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