Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mermaids come to life at MerPalooza in Tampa

TAMPA — Swimming in the pool, the mermaids almost look real. Their metallic-colored fins splash back and forth. Their seashell bras glitter in the sun.

Even inside, as they pose on faux rocks, it's possible to suspend reality for a moment longer. Silicone scales, flawless skin and long, flowing hair bring the mermaids of childhood fantasies to life.

It's the in between that tends to disrupt the magic.

Getting in and out of the suits can be tough — think sliding into a pair of leather leggings on a hot day. Plus, mermaids can't walk. Instead, they are hoisted into the arms of land dwellers and carried. Depending on the man, it can be a bit awkward.

About 400 people attended MerPalooza International Mermaid Convention and Party Saturday at the Bay Harbor Hotel in Tampa. Some came to model the custom-made costumes, others came to sell their mermaid-related products and a few came just to look.

"We say that mermaids are the new vampires," said MerPalooza director Stephanie Sims. "Fangs are out, fins are in."

This is the convention's third year after previously being held in Las Vegas and then in Orlando. Sims expected about 800 people to attend Saturday night's mermaid pageant and pool party outside the neighboring Hogan's Beach.

Ashlynn Dumelle, 34, of Tarpon Springs models mermaid wear for maker Eric Ducharme, whose Homosassa-based company, Mertailor, has crafted silicone tails for Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. She's been obsessed with mermaids for as long as she can remember. "I used to have my dad tie my ankles together with rope and chuck me over the side of the boat to see how well I could swim," she said. It's a lot easier with a tail, she found. "It feels like an extension of your body."

Becoming a mermaid helped Jennifer O'Bremski battle diabetes. "Two years ago I weighed 220 pounds," the 33-year-old from Georgia said. "Now I weigh 180."

She came to the convention to sell her artwork and handcrafted mermaid tops. "I make custom tops for busty mermaids," she said. She quickly learned that most shells are not one-size-fits-all.

As she waited for customers, O'Bremski painted. With a nod to the event's location, her latest work featured a merman version of Hulk Hogan, trident in hand as he struck his signature pose.

Out by the pool, Donna and Dan Freeman, both 68, watched in wonder as mermaids flocked to the water. On their first trip to Florida, the Green Bay, Wis., residents found the whole thing "interesting."

"He had to admit they were pretty," Donna Freeman said of her husband. "I wonder what kind of bait you use to catch them," he said, mostly to himself.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401.

For more information, go to mer-palooza.com.

Mermaids come to life at MerPalooza in Tampa 08/10/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 10, 2013 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Boehner: Trump's term 'disaster,' aside from foreign affairs

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner says that aside from international affairs and foreign policy, President Donald Trump's time in office has so far been a "complete disaster."

    John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.
  2. Veto community college budget cuts, St. Petersburg College leader urges Gov. Scott

    Blogs

    The president of St. Petersburg College is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to veto a proposed budget cut that slashes community college funding in a time of declining enrollment and tuition revenue.

    Dr. Bill Law of SPC
  3. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed in Plant City when car runs red light, FHP says

    Blogs

    Two Mulberry teens are dead and their cousin, who was scheduled to graduate from Mulberry High School Thursday evening, was critically injured after their car ran a red light and collided with another vehicle in Plant City Thursday afternoon.

  4. Review: Idina Menzel belts out powerful, courageous performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

    Blogs

    The best moment of Idina Menzel’s show at Ruth Eckerd Hall Thursday came during the singer’s best-known song, Let It Go.

    Idina Menzel performed at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall on May 25, 2017.
  5. Former Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman will retire

    Blogs

    Former Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman, who was under investigation for sending a directive to her staff that said white students should be in the same class when creating …

    Former Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman will retire pending School Board approval. Hoffman created an uproar in April when she sent an email to staff directing them to keep white students in the same class when creating classroom rosters.