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Where Mermaids Frolic
Story by Kathleen Walls Photos by Martin Walls American Roads Travel Magazine

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Close up of a mermaid.

Hernando County has one of the most unique attractions in Florida. Weeki Wachee Springs marries nature to culture with its performing mermaids. Since October 13, 1947, the talented mermaids have preformed underwater dramas to delight young and old. The earliest preformaces were the mermaids eating apples and pineapples. We enjoyed watching their version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid.

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The Little Mermaid and her prince

The really fun thing about this is that the drama is preformed 16 to 18 feet beneath the waters of Weeki Wachee Spring. The audience views it from a 400-seat underground amphitheater. The waters of the crystal clear, first-magnitude spring bubble up creating a beautiful natural backdrop to the actors who may be joined by any number of spring inhabitants or visitors. During the performance we watched, fish and turtles interacted. We were told that at one time an alligator wandered in and shut down the performance. There have even been times manatees have entered the spring during a performance. What a thrill that would be!

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A canoe on the Weeki Wachi River

The Riverboat CRUISE took us down the Weeki Wachee River for a look at the treasures beyond the spring. We spotted a few mottled ducks cruising the dock right next to the river boat. For the first seven miles we traveled through an environment much like the early explorers must have witnessed. Not a house in sight. We did see lots of pelicans, ducks, herons and other water birds. The springs put out over 100 million gallons of 99.8% pure drinking water every day that flows the 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.   The spring remains 74.2 degrees all year and comes from so deep in the earth that its bottom has never been plumbed. The water was crystal clear so we could see lots of fish darting around. Canoers and kayakers were out in droves. You can rent either of the boats right in the park. Our captain honked to let them know he was approaching. He told a story of how the abundance of Spanish moss came to hang from all the trees.

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A trio of mermaids cavords deep in the springs

“The early explorers were climbing the trees to get their bearings and when they spotted the lovely mermaids frolicking in the water, they fell out of the trees leaving their gray beards tangled in the branches.”

I’m not sure if I believe that tale but the moss is lovely.

As if all of this isn’t enough, during the summer months, Buccaneer Bay, a water park, is also part of the fun.

 On November 1, 2008 it became Florida’s 162nd state park.

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.