Danc­ing, Daz­zling in the Deep

Seventy years on, Weeki Wachee mer­maids still mes­mer­ize

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Gor­geous and glid­ing, stream­lined and stun­ning, beau­ti­ful and balanced. Those are just a few of the ways to de­scribe the lovely mer­maids who daz­zle au­di­ences ev­ery day of the year at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill, about 50 miles north of Tampa.

While swim­ming un­der­wa­ter, the mer­maids per­form bal­let moves syn­chro­nized to mu­sic, all to an au­di­ence in a 400-seat the­ater. The mer­maids swim 16 to 20 feet be­low the sur­face in the basin of the springs, which is ac­tu­ally one of the deep­est nat­u­rally formed springs in the United States.

While Weeki Wachee Springs State Park of­fers a range of things to do, such as en­joy­ing Buc­ca­neer Bay Water­park, tak­ing river­boat rides and watch­ing wildlife shows, it’s the mer­maids that re­ally of­fer some­thing out of the or­di­nary. “This is the only mer­maid show of its kind in the world, as our venue is unique,” ex­plains John Athana­son, mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager of the park.

The Weeki Wachee mer­maids have been per­form­ing since 1947, when road­side at­trac­tions were meant to “Wow!”—much like the Ga­torWorld Parks of Flor­ida in Wild­wood and the Coral Cas­tle in Home­stead. By the 1950s, Weeki Wachee was ac­tu­ally one of the na­tion’s most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions. Af­ter all these years, it’s still a pop­u­lar place to visit, and the park re­cently cel­e­brated its 70th an­niver­sary.

What the mer­maids do is no small feat, con­sid­er­ing they per­form while wear­ing fish tails, and swim in a strong cur­rent in 74-de­gree wa­ter.

Weeki Wachee mer­maids are also very ac­com­plished out of the wa­ter. A hobby of Fort Laud­erdale na­tive Kristy (top left) is play­ing the flute. Emily (top right) hails from Pataskala, Ohio, and wants to be an ar­chae­ol­o­gist. At right, Katie, who is from...

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