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Photograph of three Weeki Wachee Mermaids in staged underwater dining scene at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park around 1950. The mermaids are eating watermelon and breathing using air hoses while sitting at a table placed on the bottom of a body of water.

Along with a group of investors, Newton Perry opened Weeki Wachee Springs to the public in October of 1947, and used his experiences working at Silver Springs and Wakulla Springs to develop the original concepts for its underwater theater and mermaid shows. Perry sold his stake in Weeki Wachee Springs in 1950. After peaking in the 1950s and 1960s, attendance began to decline as theme parks and highways changed the dynamics of Florida’s tourism. The State of Florida took over the attraction as a state park in 2008. Since then, the park has focused on appealing to a modern audience while preserving its history.

You will find more images and documents like this by visiting our Weeki Wachee Collection: