Weeki Wachee Springs, the City of Live Mermaids, is celebrating it’s 60 anniversary this year.
A three-day celebration is scheduled for July 27-29, 2007. The event will include a mermaid reunion, with mermaids representing six decades of mermaid magic. Also scheduled that weekend, is the opening of the Weeki Wachee Springs historical museum. The museum will include photographs and memorabilia from the past and present.
"We want to encourage all mermaids who have performed at Weeki Wachee, to join us in the festivities for that weekend." Said Robyn Anderson, General Manager of the attraction. "This is not only a celebration of the attraction, but it’s also a celebration for Hernando County, and what Weeki Wachee Springs has meant to the local area for the past sixty years."
Weeki Wachee Springs attraction, was the brainchild of Newton Perry. Perry fell in love with the pristine headwaters of the natural spring when he first saw it in 1946. Perry thought that Weeki Wachee would make a great attraction. Perry experimented with underwater breathing hoses, and invented a method of breathing underwater from a free-flowing air hose supplying oxygen from an air compressor, rather than from a tank strapped onto the back. With the air hose, humans could give the appearance of thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus.
The first show at the Weeki Wachee Springs underwater theater opened on October 13, 1947. The mermaids performed synchronized ballet moves underwater while breathing through the air hoses hidden in the scenery.
Since 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs has become a popular destination for tourist all over the world. The allure of the mermaids attracted such stars as Don Knotts and Arthur Godfrey. Even Elvis Presley took time away from filming Follow That Dream, to see the world famous mermaids!
In the summer of 2003, the park was on the verge of extinction. Owners of the attraction refused to fix the many years of neglect. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), landlords of the lease with the attraction, threatened closure of the historic attraction.
In an effort to save the attraction, the City of Weeki Wachee (pop. 9), took possession of the lease on August 1, 2003. An aggressive "Save Our Tails" public relations campaign was launched, and support for the mermaids came in many different forms from all over the world. The media’s interest in the fight to save Weeki Wachee Springs attracted Good Morning America, The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, and many other news organizations. Television shows such as National Geographic on Assignment, The Travel Channel and The Simple Life 2 with Paris Hilton. Even a music video was shot at the attraction with British Rock Group Supergrass, highlighting the history of the park, and the importance of preserving it’s history.
The fight to keep the mermaid attraction has now found it’s way into the court system, and the battle continues to this day, between park officials and SWFWMD.
Robyn Anderson, a former mermaid, currently is the Mayor of the City of Weeki Wachee and also is the parks General Manager. "The support we have received from the public has been overwhelming. We are dedicated to Weeki Wachee’s longevity and it’s place in Florida history." Anderson stated.
For more information, please visit www.weekiwachee.com.