The mermaids at historic Weeki Wachee Springs are again
at risk of extinction if they lose the battle over their
lease with a state agency.
The Weeki Wachee, Fla., attraction, famous for its
underwater mermaid show, is disputing its lease with the
Southwest Florida Water Management District. The attraction
also features Buccaneer Bay, a spring-fed waterpark.
The state?s management district, which owns the
land, wants to ensure that the spring stays environmentally
sound and the park is run properly, said agency spokesman
Weeki Wachee officials say the state wants to shut the
park down for good and is looking for an excuse to do
The park also was at risk for closure when the agency
took over the lease in 1999 and threatened to close the
facility if repairs weren?t made to buildings and
the aging sewer system.
In 2003, the city of Weeki Wachee took over the park
lease and began campaigning to ?Save Our
Tails.? The campaign made headlines around the
country, bringing in donations and contributions from
companies to restore the attraction.
Today, the two parties are battling over wording of the
lease, alleged unauthorized dredging of the spring, and
whether the city is allowed to own a private entity. The
court will resolve the dispute this summer.
Weeki Wachee, which opened in 1947, drew as many as 1
million visitors in its heyday before Walt Disney
World opened an hour away in Orlando in 1971, taking the
crowds and revenues.