Ever since I was a little girl, fantasy and mythological creatures have always fascinated me. Frequent trips to the library would include selections about unicorns, fairies and of course, mermaids. I grew up in rural Avoyelles Parish on the banks of Bayou des Glaises, near the Atchafalaya River. Water was a constant in my life. It is the element I feel most connected with. It is no wonder that at a very young age, I began develop a keen interest in the myth and folklore surrounding mermaids. Half woman, half fish, these beautiful sirens bridged the divide between humans on land and the mysteries of the deep. I seemed to live with one foot in reality and the other in fantasy, and I’ve never quite outgrown that. Like many young girls, my first viewing of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” only increased my fascination with the creatures. My grandmother, an avid storyteller herself, once gave me a large swath of blue cloth in which I fashioned into a mermaid tail for myself. Even as an adult, I never quite let go of my love of the idea of mermaids. This led me to eventually commission a mermaid tail, custom crafted just for me.
Over the summer of 2014, I began swimming in my local gym pool with my mermaid tail and was overwhelmed by the reaction of both children and adults who noticed me! I began getting requests to swim publicly and decided to set up a facebook page for people to find out where I would be swimming. A friend of mine sent a picture of me to the local media and within a week, 3 local TV stations had run stories on “The Louisiana Mermaid” making surprise appearances in local pools. Suddenly I had a huge following on Facebook….over 2,000 fans in less than a month! The WVLA story was picked up by over 40 NBC affiliates nationwide; from Sacramento to Detroit to Phoenix to St. Louis. The story went outside the continental U.S. to Alaska and Hawaii, and then international; a news source in the U.K. even had it. It was linked in USA Today online, even the Weather Channel aired the segment! Following the television stories, the local newspaper the Advocate and the Livingston Parish News both ran full page stories and a local satire publication, the Red Schtick, even spoofed the Louisiana Mermaid!
Following all of that excitement, I quickly took steps to legitimately file the necessary documentation to trademark my name and logo and set up what has now become a second career. Never in a million years would I have thought I would have this opportunity…but I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, where I am supposed to be doing it. Louisiana loves its characters and has embraced their “very own mermaid” with open arms!
The mission of the Louisiana Mermaid is to inspire both confidence and creativity in children and adults by promoting imaginative play, positive role modeling and the belief in the power to achieve your dreams. I am also working to promote Louisiana through tourism as well as educate our citizens about the importance of coastal and wetlands conservation. Being able to realize this childhood dream of mine was magical in itself. The opportunity to share that magic, inspire others and make a positive impact on my community are just, as we say in Louisiana, lagniappe! Do YOU believe in mermaids? I hope to meet you soon!