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Kickstarter Contributors Save Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Fans throw financial life preserver to beloved event

Brooklyn Daily

Fans have thrown a lifeline to this floundering mermaid.

More than 2,300 backers helped raise $100,000 on Kickstarter to make sure the Mermaid Parade will march down Surf Avenue in Coney Island on June 22 — seven months after Hurricane Sandy nearly washed the 31-year-old partially-clothed cavalcade away.

“It’s my dream come true,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the fishy fanfare.

The superstorm’s surge smashed Zigun’s headquarters at the corner of W. 12th Street and Surf Avenue, destroying his famed freak theater and forcing him to sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into repairs. Little was left over to pay for permits, insurance, and security for the swimsuit-clad spectacle — so Zigun turned to the internet for assistance.

“That’s the way the people of Brooklyn, the whackos of New York City, people who care about alternative culture across America, that is how they contribute to things,” Zigun said on May 3.

The campaign raised $40,000 in its first three days, and reached its goal on May 30 — four days in advance of the June 3 deadline.

But the donors earned much more than the joy of seeing the pageant of partial nudity proceed. Creative friends of the parade offered sweet mermaid swag to big-money contributors. Some 190 people who gave more than $100 and will soon receive limited-edition prints from famed album cover designer Frank Kozik. Twelve other who gave upwards of $175 will get to step into the Great Fredini’s Coney Island Scan-a-Rama — a three-dimensional scanner-printer that measures a person’s dimensions and creates a statuette in their image. And one generous mermaid-phile who gave more than $350 will get to spend a day with award-winning photographer Harvey Stein, publisher of the pictorial anthology “Coney Island: 40 Years.” Others will get prizes ranging from a tote bag and pasties to getting to ride in the parade, and everyone who gave more than $13 will have their name appear on a “Thanks” banner in the procession. And the two still-unnamed biggest donors will get to ride on Borough President Markowitz’s float.

Zigun thanked Markowitz and comic Judah Friedlander of “30 Rock” fame for creating video segments promoting the Kickstarter campaign.

“They took the time out in their busy schedules to film pieces for us,” Zigun said.

Zigun has bestowed the title of this year’s “King Neptune” upon Friedlander for his efforts. The funny man will ride on the “royal float” with this year’s “Queen Mermaid,” Carole Radziwill of the Real Housewives of New York — another partner in the parade.

Zigun said he and his staff were already making preparations for the aquatic event

“We’re going to stop complaining now and put on a parade,” said Zigun.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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