Travels in the American Southwest

Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Spring

Weeki Wachee, Florida
GPS - N28° 30.986 W082° 34.449
1/2 mile east of US19/98 on SR50, 60 miles north of Tampa, Florida
Road factor/Accessability - Paved   ~1967 miles from Las Vegas (line of sight)
 

Long before there were interstate highways, long before Walt Disney's genius begat Disneyland, long before most folks who read this were born, there was a world famous attraction in the community of Weeki Wachee, Florida.

It is here that visitors would marvel at creatures thought only to be the result of the imaginations of lovelorn sailors criss-crossing the seas under full sail. It is here that you can see mermaids frolic in the Weeki Wachee Spring.

Since 1947, former Navy man Newton Perry's dream has come alive; Entertaining visitors with underwater synchronized swimming and, of course, mermaids. After recently falling on hard times, it appeared that the days of the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Spring were numbered. Visitor attendance was down and Weeki Wachee's location north of Tampa was off the beaten track. When the owners were unable to find a buyer, the city accepted possession of the property, instituted a program to make long-neglected repairs and the attraction was reborn.

Most Significant Other and I visited the tiny community of Weeki Wachee in December 2003 and had a great time. The adjacent water park, Buccanner Bay, was closed for the season and the attraction doesn't have the pizzazz of Disney World but it was an enjoyable way to spend some time.

The synchronized swimmers and mermaids remain underwater during the 30 minute show taking breaths from a hose hooked up to an air compressor. The entertainers lip-synch to recorded songs as they performed their ballet maneuvers in the 72° spring. I suspect their cardiovascular system would put mine to shame!

A high point of our visit was the photo op with one of the Weeki Wachee Spring mermaids. Although really a mermaid in training, the young, nubile, half woman/half fish took time to speak with the children as they posed with her. When asked how many mermaids there were, she replied with a smile, "Oh, there are lots of mermaids and we all live right here at the Weeki Wachee Springs." Rather than wait to watch her disappear into the spring with a flip of her well-toned tail, MSO and I continued our tour of the grounds.

We wandered about wearing short-sleeve shirts, chuckling at the palm tress strung with Christmas lights. Yankees like us are used to outside lights on pine trees surrounded by recently fallen snow and when outside, we're bundled in layers as protection from the below freezing temperatures. We stopped by Santa's chair, which would remain empty until his arrival later in the afternoon, so we'd have to wait to let St. Nick know what he could leave under our Christmas tree!

Roadside America has a great page on the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee.

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