A Bay area woman is celebrating a long run as a Weeki Wachee mermaid.

  • Vicki Smith, 77, started as a Weeki Wachee mermaid in 1957
  • Smith performed for Elvis Presley
  • She still performs as part of a Legendary Sirens group

Vicki Smith, 77, got her start 60 years ago at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

She said heading into the springs has never gotten old.

"It's about the water and the healing of the water and the magic of the water," said Smith. "It's cold and you don't want to go in, 'Oh I'm going to freeze,' and then once you go in you never want to get out."

She swam her first show as a mermaid in 1957. Although she stopped performing regularly in the early 60s, she's always kept coming back. Now she is part of the Legendary Sirens group made up of former mermaids who perform each month. At 77, Smith is the oldest.

"When you become a mermaid and you're 17 like I was, you're naïve you're just a little country girl and all the sudden you're getting fan mail and people are asking for your autograph, it's giddy stuff," she said.

One of Vicki's fondest memories is swimming for Elvis Presley when he visited the park.

"He was cute. He was cute. But, so was I [in] 1961," she said.

She also said things were a bit different back in 1957, and the modern shows are much more elaborate than in her day.

"They don't share an air hose and that's one thing we did back in 1957. They perform a choreographed story. We had to learn how to eat a banana and drink pop under water and I can still do all those things today,” Smith said.

Smith's family and friends were there to watch her swim on the anniversary of her first show. Her daughter, Scarlett Shapre, said she is an inspiration.

"I just sat in the theater and cried it was amazing. She's a beautiful person inside and out and this is a dream for her.  I'm hoping at 77 I can do something as inspiring as this," Sharpe said.

Smith said she plans to continue performing and delighting audiences at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park for as long as she can.