Fans of the annual master class in strategic shell and sequin placement that is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade can help keep the 35th annual event afloat this year: organizers confirmed today that they are crowdfunding to make sure the June 17th parade can go on.
The fundraising campaign, dubbed Feed the Mermaids, will help cover the cost of logistics and security, as well as city permits, insurance, porta potties, tents, and trucks, according to the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA. As of this writing, $396 of the requested $50,000 goal has been raised.
Coney Island USA, which also operates the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach, and the Coney Island Museum, experienced some "fairly serious financial crisis events" in recent months, according to director James Fitzsimmons. The parade has operated at a loss for years, and this year is facing higher permit and insurance costs. The organization's core staff of five people was let go this past winter.
"This past season it was just me on payroll -- deferred payroll," Fitzsimmons told Gothamist. "It's unfortunately the side effect of running an arts institution."
The Mermaid Parade crowd-sourced funds once before, for the 2013 parade following Hurricane Sandy. According to Fitzsimmons, his organization never fully recovered financially. Denny's, an independent ice cream stand, used to rent space at Coney Island USA's 1208 Surf Avenue headquarters. It was destroyed in Sandy and has not been replaced.
Asked if the parade will go on if funding falls short, Fitzsimmons said he couldn't say for sure. "That's always a possibility," he said. "There is enough push regarding the parade that will make this work, but it could leave us with larger financial problems."
You can donate here.
I only made it to the Mermaid Parade once, but it was awesome.