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Photos: Mermaid convention breaks record(s), returns to L.V. next year


Tom Donoghue/

The mermaid convention and awards at Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas on Aug. 12 and 13, 2011.

The inaugural mermaid convention and awards were at Silverton Casino Lodge on Friday, and the Las Vegas Sun’s April Corbin was onsite for a report on the action.

Check back later for a story from Mr. Vegas DeLuxe Robin Leach. Meantime, thanks to Tom Donoghue for his wet and wild and colorful photo gallery of the mermaids at work and play at the Silverton, as well as to the Las Vegas Sun's Sam Morris for his gallery of the mermaid pageant.

They’re … wait for it … fin-tastic!

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Mermaid Convention and Awards at the Silverton

The mermaid convention and awards at Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas on Aug. 12 and 13, 2011. Launch slideshow »

2011 Mermaid Pageant

Mermaid Kathy Gfeller from Minneapolis poses for photos during the first annual International Mermaid Pageant being held as part of MerCon 2011 Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Silverton. Launch slideshow »
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Juliana Tucker is carried onstage by Joe Davila during the first International Mermaid Pageant held as part of MerCon 2011 at Silverton Casino Lodge on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011.

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Merman Chris Hervey and mermaid Rachel Rehmet joke around during the first International Mermaid Pageant held as part of MerCon 2011 at Silverton Casino Lodge on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011.

A world record; next year?

Updated @10:13 a.m. by Robin Leach: A sea of mermaids broke a world record at the first International Mermaid Pageant at Silverton Casino Lodge on Friday. Pardon the puns, but how can I resist when 800 fins (whoops … fans) splashed into town, and wave after wave of applause greeted the contestants at the Silverton. It has to rank as one of the most unusual conventions ever held here, and mermen wore tails to compete for crowns.

Juliana Tucker, a 21-year-old fashion design student, Disney World entertainer and stilt walker from Orlando, Fla., was crowned Miss International Mermaid. Other winners included a 10-month-old tot, Tavin Goetting, as Baby Mr. Merman; Isabella Chidiac, a 4-year-old performing mermaid from Australia as Little Miss; Jerilyn Winstead from Colorado as Miss Mermaid; and Gary Antol from Pennsylvania as Mr. International Mermaid. They reign until next year’s convention when it returns to Las Vegas. Additionally, there is a U.S. pageant in Orlando in November.

Everywhere you turned at the Silverton, tails were flapping with mermaids traveling from as far away as Australia and Germany. There was poolside entertainment by MeduSirena and Hannah Fraser, two famed mer-entertainers. My mer-friend Hannah won three awards: World’s Greatest Environmental Mermaid, Lifetime Achievement Award (for showing the world how to be a mermaid) and World’s Greatest Environmental Mermaid Film.

Hannah told me: “The World Mermaid Awards went off with a big splash. It was a full moon in Aquarius that shined over the Silverton pool filled with the mermaids and their multicolored tails. I opened the event with the Dance of the 10 Fire Fingers, then dove into the pool and invited all the mermaids from around the world to join me. I’m certain that the 40 mer-folk broke a world record for the most mermaids swimming together in one place.

“It was also the perfect event to launch new books on mermaids. I spoke at length about what it’s like to be a mermaid and my experiences underwater. More mermaids showed up, and I gave a reading of Carolyn Turgeon’s new book simply titled Mermaid.

“Afterward, we all met at the Silverton’s Mermaid Lounge where hundreds of mer-personalities from around the world met in person for the first time after being online friends for years. Tom Shouse, the tail man who created the original tail for the Daryl Hannah Splash movie, which inspired my own first tail-making efforts, regaled us with mermaid stories.

“I was showered with so much love and appreciation. It was amazing to hear that I had inspired so many mermaids around the world to find their passion. It was unbelievable, tiny children fans put pearl necklaces around me, and adults gave me silk aqua pillows to sleep on. It’s a remarkable community, and I got hugs galore from dozens of mermen! So many people told me that they had started ocean eco projects after being inspired by my underwater adventures. That truly fills me with a sense of accomplishing my highest calling.

“The mermaids from around the world are all such individuals, each with such a strong personality and determination to express themselves. … There was a feeling for many people that they had found their mermaid tribe in Vegas, and I hope that feeling of connection now translates into a worldwide movement of ocean conservation mermaid activists!”

After the pageant, a panel of authors read from their works, held a Q&A and signed autographs. The mermaids and mermen were bombarded with photo requests. Twenty vendors for the mermaid industry also set up shop selling tails, hair and pirate paraphernalia.

"This was a great way for mermaid enthusiasts to come together,” Stephanie Sims, pageant producer and PR consultant, told me. “It’s rather like a Star Trek convention where it’s fun to come in costume and join in and participate!” Coincidentally, the Star Trek convention also was in town over the weekend, and several curiosity seekers from that event dropped into the Silverton splash.

Don Chareunsy is editor of and arts and entertainment editor of

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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