After Keytar Bear was attacked by a group of teenagers this past weekend, residents are stepping up to support Boston’s cherished, costumed street performer.
A GoFundMe created to get Keytar Bear a new speaker has received a whopping $6,700 in donations as of Tuesday morning. The original goal set for the fundraiser was $500.
The GoFundMe wasn’t actually created as a response to the attack, though, said Eric Williams, who launched the campaign. But that unfortunate event brought attention, and donations, to the fundraiser.
Williams launched the campaign basically because he is a Keytar Bear fan (who isn’t?) and most recently saw the furry performer at Boston TechJam last week.
Williams, a 27-year-old software engineer, was at the event with his company Evergage. He noticed Keytar Bear setting up his small sound system at a nearby booth.
“The event had its own live performances and, as with any major live sound, it was extremely loud. As a result, Keytar Bear had to really push his system, and it ended up overheating,” he said. “Later that night, I figured, why not set up a modest GoFundMe to try and raise some money to get him a more powerful, modern speaker with more range to allow him to perform in situations such as the one he was in Thursday.”
On Saturday, Keytar Bear was attacked by three New Hampshire teens near Faneuil Hall. The attackers reportedly slammed Keytar Bear to the sidewalk, ripped off his costume head and hit him repeatedly in the face and body while saying racial slurs. They also stole his tips.
The teens were charged with assault and battery, public fighting and disorderly conduct, and they could face hate crime charges.
When Williams checked the GoFundMe Sunday night, he was stunned to see it had amassed about $1,800, and it has continued to grow since.
“I was simply speechless,” he said. “To see it approaching $7,000 in less than four days is nothing less than inspiring.”
One Keytar Bear fan wrote online that “an attack on Keytar Bear is an attack on all of us. Seriously upset by this,” and it seems many others share that sentiment.
The response to this fundraiser has shown what the beloved busker means to the city as many donors commented on the campaign to say they’re sorry the attack happened and to assure Keytar Bear that he’s “much more valuable than you might know.”
“There is something about the outfit and his music that brings a bit of joy to people’s day, whether that person is a commuter dealing with a frustrating train ride or a tourist exploring Faneuil Hall,” Williams said. “All of this combined with the overwhelming response this GoFundMe has received proves that Keytar Bear is far more than just another street performer.”
Williams said that he has been in touch with Keytar Bear’s managers through the fan Facebook page, We Love Keytar Bear, who gave Williams a Paypal account to which he’ll transfer the money.
A spokesperson for the fan page said that Keytar Bear is waiting for the Boston Police Department investigation to be done before he speaks out.
Williams said he has already initiated a transfer of $1,500 (since GoFundMe deposits smaller amounts as the campaign grows) and is using $640 to purchase a new speaker, cover and cables for Keytar Bear.
This isn’t the first fundraiser for the furry street performer, either — nor, unfortunately, the first time he was attacked.
In April 2014, Keytar Bear was reportedly assaulted twice, which sent him into a summer hibernation. Those events also spurred an Indiegogo fundraiser that month, which raised more than $5,000, as well as a fundraiser event at Workbar. In October 2014, he was beaten and robbed again near Faneuil Hall.