Mermaid Capital of Texas

The story of the mermaid

For thousands of years, the mermaid has served as a striking symbol of the powerful connection between humanity and the natural world. Our association with the mermaid is linked to the abundant natural springs that release millions of gallons of freshwater from the Edwards Aquifer into the San Marcos River, located in the heart of the city. These springs are regarded by some Native Americans as a sacred place that they have stewarded for more than 14,000 years. Some Coahuitecan communities consider these sacred springs as the place where they came from the lower world onto the shores of Mother Earth as The People.

The beginning of San Marcos’ love of mermaids

The San Marcos springs were dammed to form Spring Lake in the mid-1800s for their economic power in fueling gristmills, sawmills, an ice factory and electricity. But in the 1950s, the theme park Aquarena Springs was born and so were “Aquamaids.” These mermaid-like young women learned to breathe underwater through a hose and amazed visitors with synchronized swimming, underwater ballet and their Ralph the Swimming Pig sidekick. These performances continued until the 1990s, creating our lifelong love of these mythical, aquatic creatures.

The journey to Mermaid Capital of Texas

In 2016 the Mermaid Society of Texas was created to foster harmony between environmental sustainability, the arts, and economic growth. The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest, an annual multi-event festival, featuring a Mermaid Art Ball, parade and faire, further spurred residents and merchants to embrace the mermaid as our mascot. Local artists created mermaid artwork, mermaid-tailed swimmers showed up in our river and businesses offered mermaid-themed items in their restaurants and stores. The San Marcos Arts Commission even commissioned 10 seven-foot-tall mermaid statues transformed by artists into the “Mermaid March” as a public art project installed around the city. These statue forms were styled to show the mermaid as a powerful yet welcoming creature.

The official Mermaid Capital of Texas designation

Championed by the Mermaid Society and the City of San Marcos in partnership with Sen. Judith Zaffirini in the Texas Senate and Rep. Erin  Zwiener in the House, the resolution to designate San Marcos as the Mermaid Capital of Texas had a two-year journey from its inception to the Governor’s desk in May of 2021. Initially proposed in 2019, time ran out for the resolution to be presented to lawmakers before the close of the 86th Legislative session. Brought back during the 87th Legislative session in 2021, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9 was adopted by the Senate on April 19, by the House of Representatives on May 8, and then signed by the governor on May 24. See the official copy of the designation HERE.

The resolution celebrates the cultural significance of the mermaid in the community and our dedication to protecting and cherishing the San Marcos river: “By adopting the mermaid as a symbol of the city, the people of San Marcos are encouraging public interest in the natural environment and highlighting the central role their community is playing in preserving the water resources of the Lone Star State.”

What do mermaids mean to San Marcos? 

The mermaid serves as the protector of the beloved river, which supplies drinking water to millions of people and serves as a principle water source for agriculture, industry, and recreation. As a symbol for San Marcos, the mermaid is a reminder of our responsibility to preserve Central Texas’ water resources through research, sustainable water management, and environmental stewardship. The mermaid connects San Marcos’ past, present, and future. Her home is our home. 

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