Inside the San Marcos Aquarena, an “underwater world of mermaids, clowns, and a swimming pig named…
Inside the San Marcos Aquarena, an “underwater world of mermaids, clowns, and a swimming pig named Ralph”
At Collectors Weekly, a wonderful story about midcentury theme park mermaids in Texas:
The springs of the San Marcos River in central Texas have plenty of extraordinary traits: Each day, they release about 100 million gallons of water, forming the life source for one of the longest-inhabited places in North America. They’re also the primary habitat for several endangered species, including a blind salamander found nowhere else on earth. Yet the most magical thing about the San Marcos springs is actually no longer there — its unique submersible theater, or “Aquarena,” which once gave audiences a window into an underwater world of mermaids, clowns, and a swimming pig named Ralph.
Here is a very impressive photo of the pig, who was apparently enticed into the water with the promise of a milk bottle. For their full performances, the mermaids would put on “an underwater picnic, a few clown stunts, and an elegant underwater ballet.” They also had to decorate their own swimsuits, “sewing on rhinestones and sequins to resemble glittering scales,” and learn to deal with the panic attacks and occasional hypothermia that came with spending the workday submerged in a water tank. In 2012, the San Marcos Aquarena was dismantled.
Photo via Ellen Jo Roberts/flickr