Founded by Newton Perry, the first mermaid show at the Weeki Wachee Springs Underwater Theater opened on October 13, 1947. A few people gathered to watch a dozen bathing suited beauties performed synchronized ballet moves underwater while sneaking breaths through the air hoses Perry had invented and hidden in the scenery.
To quote the Southwest Florida Water Management District website, it didn’t take long for Weeki Wachee Springs to become “a mecca for mermaid enthusiasts.” Which, up until now, I had no know even existed.
“The magical allure of the mermaids swimming in a first-magnitude spring has drawn visitors from around the world. Today, visitors can still witness the magic of the mermaids, take a river boat cruise, and canoe or kayak on the Weeki Wachee River.” The history of this place is fascinating, and you can read more here.
Sadly, the town didn’t survive. As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, the Florida state legislators passed a bill to shut the place down and I have no idea what happened to the remaining 12 resident of the town. However, the area is now a state park and remains a mecca for tourist and locals alike.
If you find yourself on U.S. 19, just north of Tampa, do me a favor and stop in to enjoy this 538-acre state park where you can experience the pleasures of a first-magnitude spring while sitting in a 400-seat submerged theater watching the live mermaid show. Just remember to wear your sunscreen and stay hydrated.
If you’re not into mermaids (or mermen) then you can kayak around the crystal-clear spring looking for manatees and other strange, mystical life forms. Or risk your life on the giant slide that beacons your inner child like a siren calling out to sailors. And, if you are really, really adventurous, you can go cave diving in the spring’s cave system. But be warned. Rumor has it the spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found.
If you make it down there, look for the lost dream of a young boy and perhaps the mermaid (or possibly merman) who is holding in her (or his) heart waiting for me to come and retrieve it.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”