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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Mermaids dive into downtown San Marcos with SMTX Mermaid Parade

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Photo By Chubu Nwadiei

Rainbow-scaled mermaids waved hands and tails to parade-goers Sept. 22 at the Splash Festival’s Downtown Mermaid Promenade.
The Splash Festival, commonly referred to as Mermaid Week, is a week-long lineup of events hosted by the Mermaid Society of Texas, a San Marcos-based organization that prioritizes environmental awareness, arts and community.
The Mermaid Society of Texas was founded two years ago and hosted the first ever Splash Festival in 2016. The society recruits local organizations to participate in the events through donations and involvement.
This year’s Splash Festival ran from Sept. 15-22 and wrapped up with the mermaid-themed Downtown Mermaid Promenade.
The week pays homage to San Marcos’ historic Aquarena Springs performers. Mermaids and swimming pigs were featured in an underwater tourist attraction from 1951-94 at Spring Lake. In 1994, Texas State bought the land and dismantled the theme park to build the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. However, the impact the costumed mermaids had on the San Marcos community is still celebrated.
Some events of the week were the Sept. 15 Mer-tini Shakedown, a mixologist competition, and the Sept. 21 Mermaid Society Art Ball at the Meadows Center. Attendance was largest for the end-of-the-week parade, however, with around 600 people in attendance.
The parade had over 30 floats from a variety of volunteer groups, each drawing a constant stream of cheers from the crowds lining nearly two miles of downtown San Marcos
Owen Goodnight Middle School Gifted and Talented Coordinator Connie Martin-Thompson helped create the school’s annual float: an aquamarine beach where mermaids rest. Students participated as both walkers and as mermaids.
“Our art teachers and the [students] usually do all of the float’s art,” Martin said. “I usually help our mermaids get ready.”
Ed Mihalkanin, City Council member and associate professor of political science at Texas State, participated in the parade and said the event helps bring the community together and remember San Marcos’ history.
“Although the city isn’t personally involved with planning the festival, we still like to participate along with our community,” Mihalkanin said.
As the attractions rolled past bars and packed street corners, rooftop announcers reported the colorful and aquatic sights. Each float was unique in both color palettes and themes. From beach martinis to stranded mermaids, the floats had it all.
San Marcos Art League, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage and promote local art, is already preparing for its float next year. San Marcos Art League Director Cecilia Wibbenmeyer said the organization has held workshops every month for the past year in order to have their float ready for the parade.
Wibbenmeyer said the Downtown Mermaid Promenade is not only a decorative street parade but that it was originally created to draw attention to the environmental efforts the San Marcos community must perform in order to protect the river from pollution and degradation.
“[That’s why] we use completely recycled materials,” Wibbenmeyer said. “Everything is paper mache or recycled plastic, which we recycle again after we’re done with it.”

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