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Former mermaids return to water to perform at Weeki Wachee Springs

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Published:   |   Updated: September 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

WEEKI WACHEE - As the August rain fell outside, seven mermaids performed to a packed audience at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on Saturday.

The mermaids wore glittery costumes and tails, and effortlessly performed underwater. The only difference was their age.

On Saturday, Barbara Wynns, Bev Sutton, Susie Pennoyer, Crystal Robson, Lynn Columbo, Marianne Bennett and Lydia Dobson, performed as "former mermaids." The women are between 59 and 64 years old, and are among a group of former mermaids who don their tails once a month. Many of the women originally performed back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

One mermaid told the audience she's in her 60s on land, but when she gets in the water to perform she's "19 again."

John Anthanson, marketing and public relations manager for the park, said the former mermaid shows started back in 1997 with the park's 50th anniversary.

Another Weeki Wachee mermaid, Samantha Maywell, has been on many mermaids' minds in the past week. On Aug. 22, Maywell fell off a pontoon boat off of Hernando Beach and nearly severed her leg.

Doctors were able to save Maywell's leg, and the mermaid had surgery earlier in the week to clean her leg and re-attach tendons.

"From what I understand it's gone pretty successful," Anthanson said. Anthanson said a benefit is planned for Maywell, who has a young daughter, on Sept. 5 at Texas Roadhouse Grill on State Road 50. The restaurant is open from 3-10 p.m.

"Texas Roadhouse is gracious enough to donate 10 percent of the bill if you mention Mermaid Samantha, and we're also bringing four mermaids in tails," Anthanson said.

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