How to Channel Mermaid Chic This Summer
What do you call a wet princess? A mermaid. Mythologized by Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney, these deep-sea goddesses were actually brought to life in mid-20th century Florida by Newton Perry, a Navy veteran. A resourceful fellow, Perry not only rediscovered and cleared a natural wonder, a bottomless clear water spring in Florida where the water is a tepid 74 degrees, named Weeki Wachee by the Seminole Indians, but also using compressors, developed an air hose that eliminated the need for a tank (which is not what we’d call a chic accessory). Clearly inspired, Perry, who once trained frog men, turned his attention to tutoring two-legged mermaids in etiquette and aquatic ballet, and his corps of lovelies gave their first performance in 1947. Over the years, they lured hundreds of thousands of visitors down South, among them Elvis Presley and swim star Esther Williams, and Weeki Wachee is now a state park where mermaids continue to thrive.
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