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Summer Guide 2016: Mer-camp — A peek into the making of a storied Florida tradition

Date: May 26, 2016
Category: News

By Kate Bradshaw: Read More

They sat on the concrete, in the sun, near the iron gates and the ticket booth, many of them toting large cloth beach bags stuffed with towels.

mermaid auditionsSome made small talk: about school (few were over 22), about career prospects, about the big swim that was to come.

Eventually, the group grew to more than 50. All were aspiring mermaids, most sporting accessories that suggested such an inclination: abalone shell necklaces, waist-length hair and, in one case, part of a thigh tattooed with fish scales.

Yet few, if any, would cross the threshold to mermaid-dom that day.

“Hopefully, we’re going to try to hire — which it won’t happen — maybe eight to ten,” said John Athanason, marketing and public relations manager at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. “Don’t be surprised if we get one or two… Maybe four if they’re lucky.”

During the most recent tryouts, Athanason said later in an email, six young women made it to the second audition phase.mermaid taylor at tryouts

But that doesn’t mean the 40-something who didn’t make the cut will never achieve mermaid-dom.

All were invited to try out again; some currently on staff had to try out more than once before making it.

“I auditioned twice,” said Taylor Kane, 20, of Pasco County. “So my very first time I came, there was a giant tryout like this, about 50 girls, didn’t make it. But then I came back a few months later… and I got it.”