San Marcos celebrated all things mermaid Wednesday with the official kickoff of Mermaid Month.
September marks a month-long celebration of mermaids following the city’s official designation as the Mermaid Capital of Texas. The City of San Marcos hosted a kickoff ceremony Wednesday, leading to the 2021 Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest, which was proclaimed a signature celebration for the City of San Marcos by Mayor Jane Hughson on Aug. 17.
“It was proclaimed that the San Marcos mermaid is a symbol of strength and beauty — a guardian of the San Marcos River, a superhero to children and a symbol of friendship and unity, welcoming all to our great city,” Hughson said. “A connection to the past, present and future, our mermaid heritage runs deep, including the Aquamaids of Aquarena Springs, whose reputation was renowned all over the world. For many years, they greeted and entertained visitors from many countries.”
Above, Mayor Jane Hughson speaks at the City of San Marcos Mermaid Month kickoff event on Wednesday at San Marcos Rec Hall.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill marking the designation of San Marcos as the official Mermaid Capital of Texas on May 24. July Moreno, founder and executive director of Mermaid Society SMTX, thanked State Rep. Erin Zwiener, State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Mayor Hughson, members of the San Marcos City Council and city staff for helping the city receive the new designation.
Moreno said the Mermaid Capital of Texas Designation will help the mermaid society advance its mission to help educate and inspire San Marcos’ youth to champion river guardianship by combining science and fantasy of the mermaid.
“Our goal is to instill into tomorrow’s leaders a lifelong interest in our town’s history and preserve the fragile and wondrous microcosm of the San Marcos River,” Moreno said. “The mermaid image will represent an aqua superhero for our children and help support our creative programming to deliver our messaging. We believe this designation will help us be remembered by the many who visit our great city as a vibrant and creative eco-driven community.”
In an effort to provide fun and engaging education about the San Marcos River, springs, wildlife and community to the city’s children, Mermaid Society SMTX offers two programs: Mermaid Chats, which is held in all San Marcos Consolidated ISD elementary schools for students in kindergarten through second grade, and the S.P.L.A.S.H. Patch program — a self-led patch earning program for children in third through sixth grades.
“This designation helps advance (Mermaid Society SMTX’s) mission to educate, excite and inspire our youth to champion river guardianship,” Hughson said.
During Wednesday’s event, Clay DeStafano, executive director of the Price Center, highlighted the importance of mermaids in San Marcos’ art scene, saying “on behalf of the artists in San Marcos, we are pleased to join in the celebration of the mermaid and all she represents to each of us. May her spirit, this new state designation and this year’s celebration prove to further stabilize and sustain all of our creative endeavors for many more years to come.”
“Today, you’ll find mermaids hiding in plain sight throughout San Marcos, swimming in our river and on display in our shops, and eateries, in our library, and in art shows, art markets and our galleries,” DeStafano said. “Over the past several years, many local artists, including me, have used the mermaid as muse to inspire the creation of unique art year round. Painters, stained glass and mosaic artists, illustrators, fabric artists, assemblagists, and sculptors, writers, musicians, and filmmakers have all responded to the call of the San Marcos mermaid to honor our river, protect our precious resources and celebrate our long, unique and diverse heritage.”
Shirley Rogers, who served as an original aquamaid at Aquarena Springs, performing shows underwater for tourists and residents, said the history of the mermaid in San Marcos lingers on.
“The new designation of San Marcos as the Mermaid Capital of Texas is a wonderful way to preserve the city’s history and keep the legacy of the mermaids alive,” said Rogers, who’s also the granddaughter of A.B. Rogers and daughter of Paul Rogers who had the vision to open Aquarena Springs — a resort and theme park at the headwater of the San Marcos River. “With the establishment of the mermaid society, its rapid growth in popularity, I feel that the mermaids, their connection to San Marcos, will continue for years to come.”
Above, Shirley Rogers, an original aquamaid at Aquarena Springs, addresses the crowd.
Mermaid Month culminates with the Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest on Sept. 25, which includes an Aquamaid Scavenger Hunt, the Mermaid Promenade, and the Downtown Street Faire
“We hope the San Marcos mermaid will be recognized as a symbol of friendship and unity, welcoming of all to our great city,” Moreno said. “A connection for our past, present and future. She is unique and vibrant as San Marcos itself. A freshwater mermaid deep in the heart of Texas, and she is forever ours.”