When Hurricane Sandy tore through Coney Island six months ago, it devastated local businesses and poured seawater through the famed New York Aquarium. The sea lions weathered the storm just fine, but the mermaids were badly hit.
Yep. It was looking pretty bad for the mermaids for a while there.
But thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, they appear to be making a comeback just in time for their annual extravaganza of flesh and fins. In just five days, organizers have raised nearly half of the $100,000 they estimate they will need in order to hold the 2013 Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
“The Mermaid Parade isn’t just mine,” Dick Zigun said in a video posted on the campaign’s Kickstarter page. “I made it up, but it’s yours too.”
Zigun is the self-professed “unofficial mayor of Coney Island” whose nonprofit Coney Island USA also runs the local museum and freak show. He founded the Mermaid Parade thirty years ago and leads the procession every year dressed in an antique black bathing suit, banging a drum with heavily tattooed arms.
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“Let’s face it, we’ve had some hard times,” he said. “Six months ago 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. We can’t pull it all off this year.”
Hence the fundraising effort. In the same zany spirit that entices almost a million people to the famous parade every year, people who donate $40 get to take home a tote bag, a set of seashell pasties (unisex!) and a (literal) freak flag.
The money raised will go toward portable toilets, permits, security, insurance and other sundry expenses.
If the organizers meet their goal, the parade is set for June 22.