The Return of the Mermaids: A Desert Under the Sea

July 15, 2015

Allison Jones, Tabatha Holan, and Mermaid Sophie giving us a preview of the parade. Photographer: Jeffrey Mead

Allison Jones, Tabatha Holan, and Mermaid Sophie give a preview of the parade. Photographer: Jeffrey Mead

by Liz Felix

Do you want be where the people are? Want to see them dancing? Strolling along down a, what do you call it, street? If you sang along to that opening or even recognized it, you’re probably a fan of The Little Mermaid and if you’re a fan of some under the sea fun, you’ll love what’s returning to Downtown and Fourth Avenue early this August.

Inspired by the annual monsoons that bring new life to the Old Pueblo during June through September, Return of the Mermaids is an event that allows folks from all over to celebrate the rain and water this town so desperately craves with music, food, performances, and a costume parade filled with mermaids, mermen, merkids and merpets!

“I felt Downtown needed an August festival that welcomes back UA students. Mermaids have been underrepresented, so I thought we should do a mermaid parade,” says David Aguirre, the mastermind behind the mermaid inspired festivities.

Sophie listening to the ocean. Photographer: Jeffrey Mead

Sophie listening to the ocean.
Photographer: Jeffrey Mead

The event will kick off on August 8 with a mermaid arts market at 11 a.m. at “The Beach” located on 50 N. Fifth Ave., near the MLK Apartments. Besides great music, dance performances, and bubbles (yes, bubbles!), the market will consist of 25 artists showcasing a variety of mermaid accessories and artwork that will help get you geared up and excited for the events later on in the evening.

The fun will continue at Haggerty Plaza on 316 N. Fourth Ave. with what Aguirre calls “a series of family workshops, music and fun with resident mermaids.” If you’re looking to join in on the sidewalk parade dressed in your finest, fish scaly costume, you’re more than welcome to participate. “It is a free community event for all merfolk willing to dress as something that is life under the sea,” says Aguirre.

The parade will start at 7:30 p.m. at Haggerty Plaza, circling the avenue and continuing down through the east side of the Fourth Avenue underpass where it will travel through “Mermaid Falls Park”, a spot near HiFi which will include music and mermaid belly dancers. The parade will then proceed on the north side of Congress Street and end at The Beach on Fifth Avenue.

The Littlest Mermaid at last year's Return of the Mermaids. Photographer: Kevin Anderson

The Littlest Mermaid at last year’s Return of the Mermaids.
Photographer: Kevin Anderson

Musical performances, fire spinning by Poi-Zen and even some comedy routines will be awaiting the crowds at The Beach once the parade has concluded. Food trucks will also be in attendance including Pin-Up Pastries, You Sly Dog, Bam Bam Asian Mexican Fusion, to serve up some tasty treats while you frolick in the mermaid madness. And to help burn off those calories, there will also be a black light dance floor for you to get your groove on!

The event will be coinciding with Downtown’s Second Saturdays so the streets will be packed with onlookers and participants, which also means busy streets. Aguirre is excited for the Tucson event but also wants to make sure we all stay safe out there. “As always, we want everyone to be safe crossing streets Downtown. It’s Second Saturdays, so it will be a busy, fun-filled day and evening for people watching, so get your costumes ready!”

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page at