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From our Executive Director James Fitzsimmons

This past weekend Coney Island USA had a remarkable Spring Gala in the NY Aquarium. This was important for us as we have been closed for business the entire past month.

Off season in Coney Island is never good, but any time we have no income from operations is bad news for us. Every year we get by white-knuckled, except for those years, we haven't gotten by and have had to furlough the entire staff. Then we just hurt from an off-season without a staff helping to make sure we are fully ready to open for our season.

A lot of you, far more than I excepted and for which I still do not fully feel I have properly expressed gratitude, have helped to support Coney Island USA this past year via fundraisers. This has helped greatly and continues to help us. But some of you might be interested in helping us out in a different way once we re-open, starting this coming weekend. If so here are some ways you can do that:

1) Come to Coney Island USA to see the Museum and spend some time in the newly remodeled Freak Bar for a few rounds. We are a "beer and wine only" concession, but we love having people spend the day hanging out, talking, playing games, and just keeping life in the building.

2) Become a member. Every level of our membership offers free admission to the Coney Island Circus Sideshow for the entire season (except a few high volume days). Our most coveted membership level, however, is our Judgeships which allow for access to the Reviewing Stands for the Mermaid Parade. These are the best seats for seeing the Parade and include a lot of complementary food and rink as well as bribes from Parade participants. This April we will be holding a special pre-Parade event for Judges at Coney Island Baby in Manhattan, and the only way to attend is to get your Judge level membership before April 15.

3) Come to our programs! This April will see the 4th Annual Ritual Cabaret festival in conjunction with the International Culture Lab. We will also be holding the Congress of Curious People, including lectures, sideshow performances and more. I especially recommend the Opening Event for the Congress, the annual inductions into the Sideshow Hall of Fame. Not only is it a one of a kind event, but it is one of the only times you'll catch me on stage playing "Professa." More details to come in the next few days.

Starting this weekend Magic at Coney returns, Sunday starting at Noon. Some of the best local and international talent perform on their stage and it is a rare opportunity to see performances up close and fully interactive.

4) Sign up to be in the Coney Island USA Presents: The Mermaid Parade The only thing better than seeing the Parade is being the Parade. The assembly area of the Parade, in the Ford Amphitheater, is one of the best parties of the year all in its own right, and once the Parade starts things just expand from there.