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Mermaid show a breath of fresh air

Weeki Wachee Springs has received two new air compressors to replace the one that broke down recently between mermaid shows.

By MARY SPICUZZA
Published June 17, 2005


WEEKI WACHEE - The mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, and those who love them, can now breathe a little easier.

The shimmering-tailed creatures ran out of air last weekend, when the Mermaid Theater's air compressor broke down between mermaid shows.

The mermaids were initially beached, but then improvised by performing surface-oriented shows. Others simply posed for visitors throughout the park.

But two new air compressors arrived on Thursday. They were installed in time to supply the mermaids' breathing tubes with air for an afternoon performance of The Little Mermaid.

"The mermaid show is the staple of Weeki Wachee," marketing and promotion manager John Athanason said. "And this is a big weekend for us."

The compressor breakdown was just the latest in a series of problems facing the theme park, which showed operating losses for the 2002 and 2003 calendar years, according to a recent report.

Weeki Wachee has been involved in litigation with its landlord, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which last year tried to have three of the park's five slides at Buccaneer Bay closed for safety reasons.

However, at least the underwater mermaid shows are now back to normal.

A pair of bright blue, 10-horsepower air compressors, manufactured by Boge, arrived just in time for the busy Father's Day weekend.

Together they cost about $13,500, but were paid for in part by donations from mermaid fans.

After Thursday's show, several mermaids said they were thrilled with the fresh air supply.

"It tastes so much better!" Mermaid Morgana said. "And it was so hard to swim on the surface in a tail and try to dive under."

Merman Justen, who played the Prince in The Little Mermaid show, agreed. He said the new air made a big difference.

Fans said they were thrilled to see the mythical creatures back in action.

"Oh, it was excellent," Spring Hill resident Jane Soares said. "We've been coming here every year."

Her 10-year-old son, Victor, agreed.

"It was good," he said. "I enjoyed it."

Mary Spicuzza can be reached at mspicuzza@sptimes.com or 352 848-1432.

[Last modified June 17, 2005, 00:34:18]


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