On June 3 at midnight, the 27-day $100,000 Kickstarter campaign to save Coney Island's Mermaid Parade will come to a close. On the morning of May 30, the initial goal was met through small contributions from people around the world. Widespread attention from media and celebrities (Alec Baldwin, Darren Aronofsky, etc.), created a veritable flash flood of support for the 30-year-old event.
"It doesn’t surprise me. The folks that participate love it and the observers love it. I am thrilled that folks have responded so beautifully," the Daily News quoted Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as saying. "The Mermaid Parade is America’s most underdressed parade and it is a major tourist attraction not only in Brooklyn, but the entire city of New York."
The Mermaid Parade, conceived and managed by the not-for-profit arts organization Coney Island USA, was in jeopardy due to extensive Hurricane Sandy storm damage to its landmarked arts center at 1208 Surf Avenue and rising production costs. Funding the recovery and the Mermaid Parade proved to be extremely challenging for the small organization.
“Let’s face it: we’ve had some hard times,” says parade founder Dick Zigun, speaking in Coney Island USA's damaged headquarters, in the Kickstarter video. “Where I’m standing was up to here in floodwater—our headquarters was totally destroyed. We’re still recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and it’s just beyond us.”
To aid in the Mermaids' effort to emerge victorious over Superstorm Sandy, the Kickstarter was launched on 5/7. The Kickstarter campaign features rewards that run the gamut from a set of pasties (unisex) designed by contributors to your own private air-conditioned porto-potty to a (literal) Freak Flag.
In support of the grassroots campaign, Markowitz will be offering a unique reward: the top two donators to the Mermaid Parade campaign will get to ride on a special float at the front of the parade with Marty.
The campaign is currently the most-funded public arts event ever on Kickstarter. The Mermaid Parade will now officially kick off at 1 p.m. on June 22.