Weeki Wachee Springs: Women creating and maintaining Florida Heritage

I have been facinated with mermaids for as long as I can remember. Maybe it began when I was around four or five years old when my grandparents took me to Week Wachee Springs and I saw for the first time what I thought were real mermaids. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life! So I am very excited to add this post about the Weeki Wachee Springs and it’s mermaids.

Natives of Florida, the Seminole Indians, named this spring “Weeki Wachee” which means “Little Spring”. But don’t let that deceive you, this spring is so deep that the bottom have never been found. Each day more that 117 million gallons of fresh water bubble up out of subterranean caverns.

In 1964 Newton Perry pulled rusted refrigerators and old cars out of the Weeki Wachee spring in an effort to turn in from a garbage dump into a business.  Quiet the entrepreneur, he built an underwater theater into the limestone so visitors could look right into the natural beauty of the spring, thought he knew that wasn’t enough. He began to think of ways to incorporate entertainment into the springs.

A year later the first (and only) underwater mermaid show premiered in Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida. But tourism was slow, cars were few, and Weeki Wachee was off the beaten path. Business was slow to pick up, so everytime the mermaids heard a car passing by the springs, they would run to the side of the road and beckon driving families to come view their show.

The women’s persistence paid off, by the middle of the 1950’s Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the nations most popular tourist spots. The springs grew to include a beack area, gardens, and even filming locations for popular movies such as “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.”

The Mermaids and their spring became so famous that in 1959 ABC bought the springs and began heavily promoting their shows. The mermaids performed Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, and Peter Pan. As many as half a million people a year came to view the mermaids perform in the ancient springs.

In 1966 Weei Wachee became an incorporated city, putting the spring on maps and road signs, and ensuring the protection of this natural beauty. As of 2009, it is easily one of the smalled cities in America with a population of only 30 people (the mayor is also a former Mermaid).

Today Weeki Wachee is up to the challenge of maintaining its former glory.

Visitors can swim at Buccaneer Bay, see the Misunderstood Creatures animal show, or take a riverboat ride down the Weeki Wachee River and into Old Florida. A family of peacocks roams the grounds. Turtles, fish, manatees, otters and even an occasional alligator swim in the spring with the mermaids, amusing both children and adults. Visitors can pose with mermaids, and even swim in the spring with the new Sea Diver program.

Weeki Wachee springs is one of Florida oldest attractions. The mermaids were instrumental in bringing in visitors and protecting the springs, they are as much a part of it’s rich cultural heritage as the clear 72-degree spring water.


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