- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2007

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The future of the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs could be protected if the state follows through with a proposal to turn the venerable roadside attraction into a state park, its managers say.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials toured Weeki Wachee Springs after its managers asked the state to consider taking it over from the tiny city of Weeki Wachee, which has about nine residents. That arrangement could solve lingering problems for the people who have been trying to keep the 60-year-old attraction afloat.

“The state taking over the park would be a good thing, if they want to maintain the park the way it is,” Weeki Wachee spokesman John Athanason said. He characterized the visit by the six state officials earlier this month as “an exploratory meeting.”

Situated along U.S. 19 — a major tourist trail in the days before Interstate 75 — the site north of Tampa attracted many as 1 million visitors a year to see the women who dress as mermaids and swim in the crystal-clear spring. Today, the park draws about 200,000 guests a year.

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