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Tenth annual Parade of Mermaids to benefit Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary

February 7, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

This Friday, Feb. 9, Bert's Pine Bay Gallery will host the Parade of Mermaids, a gala event to benefit Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary of Pine Island.

Although the parade has occurred seven years previous, the Celebration of Mermaids is actually in its 10th year. The first Celebration of Mermaids in 2007 featured visiting mermaid Kate Dale, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade "Best Mermaid." The following year, Pine Bay Gallery hosted a former Wiki Wachee mermaid Jo DeShay of St. James City. She brought photos from her years of swimming at the attraction, including movie shots with Esther Williams of Olympic fame. In 2011, the Mermaid Fest became a fund-raising event.

Free registration begins at 5 p.m. at Bert's Pine Bay Gallery, located at the northeast corner of the Matlacha Bridge in Matlacha.

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Participants in a past Parade of Mer-maids at Bert's Pine Bay Gallery on Pine Island.


All forms of mer-folk are invited to participate, including mer-children, mer-men and mer-dogs. Food and refreshments will be available for a donation to Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary of Pine Island. Prizes will be raffled off.

Musical guests will begin playing at 5 p.m. The music will have humans stomping their feet, and mermaids flipping their tails.

At 6:40 p.m., the costume judging will take place on the front porch of Bert's Gallery. Judges include Robert N. Macomber, Leoma Lovegrove and Mel Meo.

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The master of ceremonies, "Mermaid Mama" Deboriah Cole, will crown the 2018 Mermaid Queen, who will win a $100 gift certificate for Bert's Gallery. Prizes will also be awarded for Most Original Costume, Best Mer-man, and two prizes for Best Mer-child. Last year's winning Mer-Man, Richard Grimes, is expected to sport a most unexpected new creation for 2018.

At 7, the Parade of Mermaids will leave the gallery, walking west to the crest of the bridge where the mermaids will throw an offering into the water, calling out a song to "The sisters of the deep."

The mermaid offering has always been a sprig of rosemary, a fragrant herb, representing memory. This year, the mermaids will each add another item: a pair of Mermaid Slippers (slipper shells). Legend has it that the use of mermaid slipper shells enables mermaids to walk on land.

The Parade of Mermaids will then proceed to Bert's Bar and Grill for more photos, fun and fund-raising.

Music will be provided for our event by Strange Arrangement/The Brothers Van Kirk.

Bert's Pine Bay Gallery is at 4332 Pine Island Road, Matlacha. For more additional information about the gallery or the annual mermaid event, please call 239-283-1335.



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