Since 1983, the famed annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade has grown to draw hundreds of thousands of participants and attendees. Each year, the parade results with people dressed up like sea creatures and other fantastic and mythical figures marching down Surf Avenue on the Boardwalk to welcome the start of summer. This year, the festive event is at risk of cancellation due to superstorm Sandy cleanup costs.
Coney Island USA, the parade’s organizer suffered severe damage to its headquarters along Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Sandy put its headquarters in five feet of water – $400,000 worth of damage. The cost of rebuilding has placed the nonprofit group in a financial bind.
The estimated cost of running this parade is $190,000, according to Coney Island USA. As the parade has grown larger, the cost of insurance and city permit fee has also gone up.
Previous years, the parade was paid for by registration fees, corporate sponsorships and proceeds from an annual gala known as the Mermaid Ball held after the march. This year the annual gala is derailed as a result of damage to the location where it is usually held.
The organizer of the parade is launching an online Kickstarter campaign next week in hopes that enough money will be raised for this year’s parade to go on. The parade has been tentatively scheduled for June 22. If there isn’t enough funding, Coney Island loses the Mermaid Parade this year.
The nonprofit is seeking to raise $100,000 by June.
Coney Island USA has also lost six months of revenue as a result of damage from Sandy. While Dick Zigun, the head of Coney Island USA and founder of the parade, admits the parade doesn’t make money for the organization – rather it ends up breaking even or even losing money, he doesn’t mind. But, the priority now is getting Coney Island USA running again.
The unfortunate part is if Coney Island USA doesn’t get back up and running, which includes the Coney Island Museum and Sideshows by the Seashore, everything is in jeopardy – that’s why if it has to hold off on the parade for one year due to lack of funding, it has no other choice but to do so to keep everything of Coney Island USA going.