Enchantment Far From the Sea: Return of the Mermaids!
August 4, 2016
by Jenn Hopkins
Monsoon season is again upon the southwestern desert. Accompanying the much-needed rain, mermaids return to Downtown Tucson in the 3rd annual Return of the Mermaids celebration. Three years ago, Lizzie Mead of Silver Sea Jewelry on 4th Avenue and David Aguirre of Dinnerware Artspace from downtown each started independently organizing a mermaid event. David had been inspired by the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, and Lizzie has just always loved mermaids. She has a mermaid mannequin named Miranda that has been in her shop’s window for thirteen years. Word traveled, as it does in Tucson, and the two met to see about combining their ideas and their districts.
This year promises to be bigger and better than ever, and everyone knows that everything’s better down where it’s wetter, under the sea. Both Lizzie and David credit the other for being an integral part of the process. David has the abstract and wonderful ideas, and Lizzie specializes in planning. “I wanted to create a new mythology with mermaids incorporating the monsoon season,” said Aguirre. Mead added, “No one wants to do events in the summer because it’s slow, and there is a very real chance of rain. Do you know who doesn’t care about some water? Mermaids. I think being in the desert, it makes us drawn to ocean things. We don’t have it here, and we long for it. Why not bring a little piece of the ocean here?”
This is also a chance to spot real-life mermaids in Tucson. Four professional mermaids will be appearing at the festivities for fun and photo opportunities. Mermaids Odette, Melody, Lira, and Michelina will be chilling in pools, ready to meet and greet with children of all ages. Flam Chen will be performing circus and fire acts for your amusement as the event progresses, along with tango dancers, hula-hoopers, live music, and artists of all sorts. Several local artists will be doing free mermaid sketches at the Tucson Comic-Con booth, plus there will be plenty of artisans with beautiful sea-themed wares.
Return of the Mermaids coincides with Second Saturdays downtown, guaranteeing a bustling time, and the event is completely free, thanks to the Downtown Tucson Partnership and the 4th Avenue Merchants Association sponsorship. It’s hard to argue with free, and it’s good for local businesses. Festivities kick off at noon, with the opening of the Arts Marketplace down at The Beach, and there are plenty of activities for kids along 4th Ave and Haggerty Plaza. Family-friendly entertainment, a photo booth, a children’s costume contest and more will keep you occupied till the sun goes down and the sidewalk parade begins. Lineup begins at 8:30 pm at Haggerty Plaza. The route proceeds through the 4th Ave underpass to Mermaid Falls Park—you can even check in on Facebook if you like—and it ends at The Beach behind the MLK building downtown. If you’re not much of a marcher, The Coronet will be hosting an “observation deck”, complete with spyglasses for you to observe the parade from a comfortable distance, like any respectable captain. Merman off the port bow!
If you happen to be sans tadpoles and are looking for some grown-up fun, several businesses are decking out their store windows in aquatic themes and offering specialty drinks for the celebration. Don’t worry, if you can’t reasonably finish them all during the parade, get a head start by previewing the cocktails at happy hour. Some shops are converting their window displays into mermaid habitats entirely, so don’t be shocked when the merfolk in the windows wave back at you. Perhaps you feel like dipping your toe into some creative waters? Maynards Market will be hosting a Hues N’ Booze paint-a-mermaid night, while Mr. Heads hosts the Mermaid Ball, complete with guest DJ Saer Uno—get ready to dance like the tide is coming in!