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78-year-old woman still wows audiences as a professional mermaid

15th August 2018

At 78-years-old, Vicki Smith is still marvelling audiences as a professional mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida.

Vicki’s career started when she was just 17-years-old, with her Weeki Wachee audition taking place just two days after graduating high school in 1957. Vicki was performing for eagle-eyed visitors only a month or so later.

Opportunity-wise, there wasn’t a lot else on offer in her remote town says Vicki, “You either went on to college, you got married, or you became a Weeki Wachee mermaid.”

Vicki gave up her fins to care for her children in 1961, but after a 43-year absence, returned to her (underwater) stage in 2004 to perform once again, this time as a 64-year-old.

In 1959, Weeki Wachee was purchased by American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) and its mermaid shows became known across the country. ABC built and embedded a 400-seat theatre in the side of the spring which still holds enthralled audiences today. It was a life of glitz and glamour for Vicki and her fellow mermaids.

“In the 1960s, girls came from as far away as Tokyo to try out for the privilege of becoming a mermaid,” says the Weeki Wachee Springs website. “The glamorous mermaids performed eight shows a day to sold-out crowds and as many as half a million people a year came to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids.”

These days, Vicki is a matriarch of the Legendary Sirens at Weeki Wachee along with other women in their 60s and 70s – all of which began their careers as young women. The group perform as volunteers, and have a strong sisterhood-like bond.

Vicki’s 90-year-old husband suffers from dementia and lives in a care home, but his fragility only makes Vicki cherish her life more. Her life as a performer sets her free, allowing her to temporarily be rid of life’s troubles and mobility problems that require stair lifts. “The minute you dive in and go under the water, it all disappears. I can do things in water that I can't do on land. I can do flips, I can do leg lifts. I can touch my toes.”

The oldest Siren mermaid performed until she was 79-years-old, but Vicki’s goal is to perform until she is 80.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.