About this project
STRETCH GOAL: $125K FOR MUMMERS!
Help Save The Largest Art Parade In America!
The Mermaid Parade is artists, it’s community, it’s Brooklyn weirdos, it’s people flying in from all over the world and, most importantly, The Mermaid Parade is YOU. Every year since 1983, it has enabled artistic New Yorkers to find self-expression in public. It’s an American celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, and it showcases over 1,500 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs, kicking off the summer with incredible art, an entrepreneurial spirit and unflagging Coney Island pride.
The parade is more than a joyful romp down Mermaid Avenue, Surf Avenue and Neptune Avenue; it's the people’s celebration of Coney Island, New York City and all the values of individuality, creativity and style that make our city so great. It’s a major New York holiday and cultural institution that was invented by and for artists! And it’s something we’ve been doing proudly for the community for 30 years.
We don’t want to stop. We never want to stop.
But we might not have a choice.
A free parade is expensive. 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. We knew this year would be a struggle, but we thought we were going to make it. We would raise fees slightly, we would put on more shows during the year, and we would have a couple of fun benefits.
And then Hurricane Sandy came along.
Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Coney Island community. It also destroyed our historical museum and performance space at 1208 Surf Avenue. We rely on the income from our popular side-show and gift shop, along with registration fees, to pay for the Mermaid Parade. With our building severely damaged and donations slowing to a trickle, our not-for-profit has had virtually no income. In many ways we’re still underwater. What this all means is that the 31st Mermaid Parade now has a budget shortfall of $100,000. This is a significant obstacle for a tiny not-for-profit arts organization like ours, but with your help it is possible.
But we’re scrappy. We’re strong. We have faith that New Yorkers, Brooklynites, and our extended family of friends all around the country and the world will refuse to let the Mermaid Parade wash into the sea.
But we need your help.
The fact that the NYPD calls the Mermaid Parade “no crime day” in Coney Island is something we’re really proud of, and for good reason. 750,000 people showed up last year, which means that *each* of our 450 staff members was responsible for *over 1,600 paraders*. That's an extraordinary amount of work, and it's only one of the unseen costs that go in to the running of a parade this big.
Here is where your Kickstarter money will go:
Logistical Parade Management:
Critical to a safe parade of this size. We’re now required to use an event management company to keep things safe and sane. It’s a big chunk of our budget, but it would be irresponsible to run it any other way.
Permits & Security:
The city requires permits and security and those ain’t cheap.
Supplies & Consumables:
Everything from pens and paper to sunscreen and trash bags. And lots of it. Boring but basic stuff!
So you know who we are if you need something! (With this many people, it’s also something we need to recognize each other.)
Food for Staff, Volunteers & Security:
No robots are used in the making of this parade. 450 humans working all day in the sun (or rain) have to eat!
Higher than ever and mandatory.
Day of Event Equipment:
All the stuff that we need to do our jobs and keep things moving. From first aid kits, truck rentals, golf carts, sound systems (3!), reviewing stands, tents and the crowd favorite: PORTAPOTTIES. Lots of ‘em.
These people work tirelessly throughout the year planning, organizing, and coordinating the parade. As a teeny-tiny not-for-profit with six employees, Coney Island USA spends almost half its time working on the Mermaid Parade. Don’t worry, you’re not paying their salaries, but you should know they’re behind the scenes.
We'd just like to take a minute and show you some of the rewards we're cooking up for you. Note: some designs/imagery are still works in progress.
A partial tax deduction for supporting us?
That's right. Coney Island USA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization. That means you might be able to claim a partial tax deduction for backing us.
Starting at $5: You'll get to download our exclusive Freak Flag design with very-special instructions. You'll have this in time for the parade! (Note: Design is not final.)
Starting at $13: You'll receive an artist-designed temporary tattoo from Brooklyn's own Tattly, your name on a parade THANKS banner, and a Freak Flag download. (Thanks to our designers, left to right, Danny Bagley, Stephanie Layton, CJ Reilly III.)
Starting at $25: Double your temporary tattoo haul, get a pack of classic Coney Island Mermaid buttons (made by us Mer-folk), your name on a parade THANKS banner and the Freak Flag download.
For a cool $40: Be the envy of all your lil’ mermaid friends with an artist-designed Mermaid Parade screen printed canvas tote bag. You'll also receive a set of handmade unisex Mermaid Parade seashell pasties (not pictured) and the Freak Flag. We'll also add your name to the banner!
A special note: The silkscreened Zipper tote bag comes by way of Amy Nicholson and her film Zipper, which emotionally chronicles the rezoning of Coney Island. (Thanks, Amy!)
Starting at $60: Eric Powell, the devious and deviant mind behind The Goon, and Angie Pontani, our very own Miss Cyclone, come together for a limited time only in this signed poster by the artist himself!
Starting at $75: Take a photo with the Tails of Glory on parade day. The Tails have rocked the parade for 12 years running, with 12 awards to show for it. Also choose any T-Shirt designed from our past themes here (Mermageddon, Iron Mer-Maiden, Marine Antoinette, Fins of Fury etc.). And receive a pack of temporary Tails of Glory tattoos in our group's theme for this year: Wet Side Story. Limit 15!
Starting at $90: WORLD CHAMP MERMAID SWAG PACK: In honor of the King Mermaid, rock a Judah Friedlander signature trucker hat....MERMAID-IFIED! Choose from three styles: "King Mermaid," "Queen Mermaid," and "Mermazing." Plus everything from The Mermaid Swag Pack.
Starting at $100: A mega-pack of 3D Mermaid Parade photos by Jay K. and a pair of 3D viewing glasses. Images curated by Dick Zigun. Plus THE MERMAID SWAG PACK.
Starting at $1800: Signed Limited Edition prints by legendary photographer Harvey Stein from his Coney Island series. Harvey has spent over 40 years photographing Coney Island and has generously made this very limited run available to us. We'll let you choose your print from a special selection. You'll also get The Mermaid Swag Pack.
Starting at $400: MARCH IN THE ROYAL ENTOURAGE: Rule the Parade by joining King Neptune and Queen Mermaid's Royal Court. Judah Friedlander and Carole Radziwill's special guests (REAL special) will be your new pals and pal-ettes...Mermaid dreams really do come true!
$5000: Private Personalized Portapotty: Why wait on line when you can sit like a king and/or queen on your throne? Special Mermaid-themed, air-conditioned portapotty with security to prevent the mer-serfs from getting in. Oh, and also it's a parade float.
Specifically commissioned for this year’s parade, this one-of-a-kind convenience features a transparent, sealed, private, and fully air-conditioned cabin allowing its dual occupants to travel in luxury. Propelled by two well-trained Satisfixation technicians, the unit includes two modified portapotty seats, providing equal parts functionality and comfort to its users. The M.P.C.P.P.F. gives you all of the benefits of experiencing the parade from the safety of your own climate-controlled shelter. A patented “Privacy Curtain” enables users a respite from onlookers as well as the ability to fully utilize the unit in perfect seclusion. Enjoy this year’s Mermaid Parade from the best seats in the house.
We'd love to have you as part of our Mer-Family! Share us on Facebook or Twitter. Talk about our plight from the rooftops (safely please). Tell your local sympathetic billionaire. Be our bullhorns. You are one of us now.
Coney Island USA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization and a tax-deductible charity.
Risks and challenges
We have 30 years experience putting on the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. If there's anything we know how to do, it's put on a great day, rain or shine.
One risk is that some reward items are being created during the campaign. If any artists or vendors are unable to complete their work, which shouldn't happen, we have great backups on the sideline. It takes a lot to stop us - we will make it happen or make it right if something goes awry.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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