Well before the start of the annual Parade of Mermaids Friday, Feb. 10, crowds were gathering along Pine Island Road and onto the bridge. The Parade of Mermaids has become an annual tradition for Bert's Bar and Grill and Matlacha for the benefit of P.A.W.S. of Lee County.
"This parade marks the 9th annual Parade of Mermaids," Bert's owner Bernard Johnson said. "The first 'Celebration of Mermaids' was in 2007 and featured visiting mermaid Kate Dale. Kate won the Coney Island Mermaid Parades 'Best Mermaid.' The following year, Pine Bay Gallery hosted a former Wiki Wachee mermaid Jo DeShay of St. James City. Jo brought photos from her years of swimming, including movie shots with Esther Williams of Olympic Medal fame. In 2011, the Mermaid Fest became a fund-raising event."
At 7 p.m., Friday, the Parade of Mermaids left Pine Bay Gallery walking west to the crest of the bridge where the mermaids threw an offering into the water, calling out a song to "The Sisters of the Deep."
On hand for the Parade of Mermaids, front, left to right, were Jackie Reichert, Robert N. Macomber (judge), Leoma Lovegrove (judge), William Tidball (judge) and Amanda LeDrew, along with the mermaid contestants.
"The mermaid offering has always been a sprig of rosemary, a fragrant herb representing memory," Johnson said. "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 then proceeded to Bert's Bar and Grill for the judging."
This year's judges for the mermaid contest were local author Robert N. Macomber, local artist Leoma Lovegrove and co-owner of CW Fudge William Tidball.
The winners for 2017:
1st Place: Brigitte Marie Ciccarello, Tampa
2nd Place: Eileen Wood, Northwest Cape Coral
3rd Place: Barb Lindahl, Northwest Cape Coral
1st Place: Julianne Theure, Matlacha
2nd Place: Rebecca Brown, Cape Coral
3rd Place: Bobbie Sue (no last name or city given)