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Meet the mermaids working to preserve the San Marcos River

San Marcos has been officially designated as the "Mermaid Capital of Texas."

SAN MARCOS, Texas — One of the most important parts of the San Marcos community is the river. And there is a group of very special people who work hard to keep the river clean and safe.

San Marcos is the "Mermaid Capital of Texas," a designation that all comes back to preserving the river. There are mermaids all over town, from statues and murals to the Mermaid Society of Texas.

KVUE's Hannah Rucker spoke with the executive director of the society, July Moreno.

Below is an edited transcript of the interview:

Hannah Rucker: I remember the first time I went to the Mermaid Ball at the Meadow Center years ago. It's like a dream. I mean, it's just so incredible. Please explain to the good people why you guys have been doing this and kind of the history behind it.

July Moreno: Sure. Well, the Mermaid Festival, which is now called the Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest because, last year, we got our designation in May, so we are officially Mermaid Capital of Texas. We've been producing this festival for six years now. It would have been seven had it not been for 2020. And so, this festival is really designed to be an identity destination event. We want to bring people into our town to celebrate our beautiful San Marcos River. And, of course, mermaids everywhere. Mermaids, mermaids and mermaids. 

The mermaid is really the symbol for river guardianship. She is the protector of our San Marcos River. So, when we celebrate the mermaid, when we come out as a mermaid, we are really helping to champion the protection and preservation of our San Marcus River.

Rucker: Looking back throughout history, you look at the Aquamaids, way back in the day. Talk a little bit about that and kind of how that plays out.

Moreno: Sure. So, this is really kind of in honor of the Aquamaids. The Aquamaids were performers at Aquarena Springs in the early 1950s, it started at Aquarena Springs to probably the early 1990s. And so, we haven't had their presence in San Marcus since. And so, this was a way for us to honor that history, very special history of San Marcos, but in a big way where it is now, you know, the Aquamaids were performers and mermaids now are seen as protectors of our San Marcos River.

Rucker: I love the education aspect. You guys have been reading to children. Why is it important to educate our young people about taking care of our waterways?

Moreno: It presents a really wonderful opportunity here in San Marcos, a very unique opportunity to educate our children on the need to understand the reason why we need to protect this beautiful resource that we have running through our town. So, the mermaid is the messenger to that very important information. And we have found through our youth eco programing – which, by the way, we have three SPLASH Patch program dates that are set. One is actually this Saturday. It's a half-day camp where children third through fifth grade can come out and learn about how they can be superheroes and stewards of the river. 

So, we find it to be very important. It is the most important work that we will ever do as an organization. And so, the mermaids help to deliver that message. It is such a win-win, combining fantasy with science.

The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest is Sept. 24 and includes a parade and downtown street fair.

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