San Marcos, the charming little college-town halfway between Austin and San Antonio is known for many things. It is known for its outlet malls, the biggest in the country thank you very much. It is known for the sparkling river with year round 72-degree water that runs through town. It is known as a party town for the dollar-sho- loving-students at Texas State University. What most outsiders don't know, however, is that the town is obsession with mermaids.
How did a mythical sea creature become the mascot of a landlocked town in the middle of Texas? It all started in the 1929s, when Aqua Springs Resort opened as a kitchy, mom-and-pop carnival style theme park. The resort encompassed parts of Spring Lake, the headwaters of the San Marcos River.
One of the experiences at the Aqua Springs Resort in San Marcos was the world's only submarine theater which featured mermaids, Ralph the swimming pig, Glurpo the underwater clown who could blow underwater smoke bubbles and a Texana Village (think Gunsmoke). An underwater wedding was performed in 1952.
In its heyday the resort was one of the most visited attractions in Texas, second only to the Alamo. Visitors from all over the world flocked to San Marcos to see the mermaids and Ralph, but alas, in the 1980s when children demanded more entertainment from their vacations then swimming pigs, the theme park went into decline and eventually closed.
San Marcos residents still love their mermaids. The mermaid is a symbol of guardianship for the San Marcos. She stands to protect the area’s most precious resources. The Mermaid Society of San Marcos, yes there is a mermaid society, uses the empowering symbol of the mermaid to serve as a catalyst for community engagement for the protection and preservation of the San Marcos River. The group organizes river clean-ups, sponsors youth programming and umbrellas several organizations that share reverence for land and water protection.
This September the city will celebrate its third annual Mermaid Week. From Sep 15, 2018 - Sep 22, 2018 The Mermaid Ball, The Downtown Mermaid Parade and culminate with The Mermaid Splash -- a river, music, environmental awareness and arts festival.
As you walk through San Marcos, you will be sure to see the town’s latest celebration of its beloved creature. The new public art project features ten fiberglass mermaid statues standing seven feet tall. There is even stature with a mermaid holding Ralph, the amazing swimming pig.