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Mermaid statues assigned locations after months in storage

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A mermaid mural painted on the back side of the Root Cellar Bakery building on the square in downtown San Marcos.
A mermaid mural painted on the back side of the Root Cellar Bakery building on the square in downtown San Marcos.

Photo by Chelsea Yohn | Staff Photographer

City Council members approved the locations of the mermaid statues months after they were unveiled to the public.

Lisa Morris, recreation programs manager, is in charge of the placing of the mermaids throughout the city. She said she does not have an exact date for when the mermaids will be placed, but hopes it will be in the next six to eight weeks.

“This project was delayed because the selection committee kept changing (its) mind on the locations,” Morris said. “Some locations that they had chosen could not be used because of upcoming construction projects that are happening.”

There will be one mermaid placed at the Visitors Information Center, the Children’s Park, San Marcos Plaza Park, the corner of LBJ and Hopkins, the Price Center, Eddie Durham Park and the corner of Guadalupe and MLK. Three will be placed along Hutchinson’s St. A map of the mermaid statues can be viewed here.

Morris said the mermaids can be easily installed in some locations, but others will require digging and setting cement. Each spot has different factors that affect how the mermaids will be installed.

A different artist created each of the ten mermaids and they all tell a different story. The name of the artist and the mermaid will be displayed on a name plate for the statues when they are placed around the city.

The mermaid project was started in 2015 by the San Marcos Arts Commission to add to the beauty and vibrancy of San Marcos. Mermaids are iconic in San Marcos and originated from the underwater mermaid performers at the Aquarena Springs theme park which closed down in the ‘90’s.

July Moreno, founder and executive director of the Mermaid Society, said mermaids have become symbols for protection of the river.

“The mermaid is our river guardian, and she sparks the interest of our little ones about how they can protect the river,” Moreno said. “It is important that we know how to take care of the river because we want to keep it for generations to come.”

Angela Zumwalt, mascot mermaid for the Mermaid Society, said she hopes the statues will bring awareness to river pollution.

“I hope when people see the artworks they are more inclined to keep the river and its surrounding areas clean,” Zumwalt said.

Local artist April Layman was selected to work on one of the mermaids. She took inspiration from splashes of color on an artist’s palette. Over that pattern is a thermochromic paint that turns black when it is cooler than 86 degrees and clear when it is warmer.

“During the winter months the mermaid would look totally black, but if you put your hand on her, your body heat would warm up the area of your hand and your handprint would be left on her making the splashes of color underneath visible,” Layman said. “However, when it is hot you will see all the colors underneath, but you can pour ice-cold water on her and she will turn black where the water runs.”

Ruben Becerra, arts commissioner, said the placement of the mermaid statues are centered around the downtown area to promote a walkable tour around the city.

“The goal is to make them a tourist attraction,” Becerra said. “Someone could make a fun day of it and walk mermaid to mermaid checking them all out and taking pictures in front of them.”

Becerra said he hopes the project continues to expand because it helps educate everyone on the city’s history as well as the San Marcos River.

“Also, I hope to have other people or businesses sponsor future mermaids so that one day we can be the mermaid capital of Texas,” Becerra said.

Moreno said this project is close to her heart because she grew up in San Marcos watching the mermaids perform.

“To be able to see these mermaids have a presence again in our community makes my heart so happy,” Moreno said. “We, San Marcos, have wanted this for so long.”

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