Mermaid Spotting at a Roadside Spectacle and Slice of Classic Americana

Yes it’s taken me five days to write about mermaids.

The parents and I hopped a flight to Florida last weekend to see Amanda (my cousin? godsister? parents’ friends’ daughter? debate continues) graduate from the University of Florida. On our little drive from Tampa to Ocala, we stopped to see the Weeki Wachee Mermaids.

I was skeptical from the moment we started discussing it. A mermaid show? Mermaids? Okay, Dad, let’s go see those mermaids.

We parked in the conspicuously empty parking lot on the side of the road, indicated only by a small sign. The ticket counter, though set up to corral long lines, was vacant except for the one person in the window who took our money.

The mermaid sightings began early.

I was convinced we were in the middle of a horror movie and looked over my shoulder as we ventured through the gates and into the park. This egret seems normal, I thought.

Yes he was normal enough to get spooked by the sound of my camera’s shutter. Sigh of relief.

We made it to the park just in time for the 2 p.m. showing of Fish Tales, which was not the marquee show The Little Mermaid. I clung to Mom’s side and we walked down a ramp to the underwater theater for the show, the reason we stopped at this tourist trap.

We found a seat in the bleachers facing the wall of an aquarium. After an introductory video about the history of the mermaids (trained to breath and perform under water by a former Navy SEAL) and the town of Weeki Wachee Springs (whose mayor is a former mermaid), the curtains went up and we were staring at 16 feet of clear natural spring water, fish and turtles included.

And then this happened.

Those are women. Wearing mermaid fins of some kind. Swimming around with turtles and fish. They breathe using air hoses and swim dance in a synchronized routine to music which they can apparently hear under the water. Such a spectacle.

The kicker, though, was their finale. It was a patriotic number performed in red, white and blue outfits to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.”

I can’t make this stuff up.

The blue hairs in the crowd really enjoyed the closing number and stood applauding for a while as Dad and I hurried outside to get a photo op with a mermaid.

Mom couldn’t back up far enough to get her tail in the picture, but she had one don’t worry.

After the excitement of meeting a mermaid in real life, we wandered through the park to see what else it had to offer. There was a boat ride on the springs, a wildlife show and a few dining establishments, but all I saw were peacocks.

Everywhere.

They were on low branches and high branches, walking through the grass and following me down the sidewalk.

On our way out we were getting slightly delirious from all the fun.

If you’re near Ocala, Florida, do yourself a favor and visit the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs. It was really, really worth it.

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Posted on May 5, 2011, in Adventures, Family, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. So much to love about this post. First, the “blue hairs” in the crowd. I lol-ed and then died. Next, the picture of you and your dad with the mermaid. Third, the family mermaid pictures.

    But seriously, the peacock pictures are beautiful!!!

  2. Also, love your dad as the merking. Why does he get legs? That’s sexist, no? Lauren’s mermaid is a little heavy in the fins. She’s got major junk in the trunk :)hahahahaha!

  3. I like the blue peacock walking down the middle of the sidewalk. From that angle, he looks taller than a person! And, of course, the mermaids…what a perfect Florida attraction!

  1. Pingback: The Anatomy of a Saturday Morning « twentyfifth year

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