Weeki Wachee Mermaid Rita King Posing Underwater with a Welcome Home Sign for Her Parents



Dublin Core


Weeki Wachee Mermaid Rita King Posing Underwater with a Welcome Home Sign for Her Parents

Alternative Title

Black and White Photograph of Weeki Wachee Mermaid Rita King Posing Underwater with a Sign that Reads, "Welcome Home Mom, Dad Your Mermaid Missed You!", 1967


Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla.);
Tourism--Florida; tourism & museum;
Mermaids--Florida--Weeki Wachee--History;
Theater--20th century


Weeki Wachee mermaid Rita King posing underwater with a handmade sign, dressed in a mermaid tail. The sign reads, "Welcome Home Mom, Dad Your Mermaid Missed You!" Rita surprised her parents with this sign at the beginning of the first mermaid show they came to after coming back home from an extended trip. It was routine during performances to shout out visitors who were celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. When VIP's visited the park, the mermaids welcomed them more elaborately. For example, when Elvis Presley visited Weeki Wachee, the mermaids began the underwater show with a cardboard cutout of Elvis as well as with several signs. As seen here, it was also acceptable for mermaids to personalize their shows under special circumstances.

Weeki Wachee Springs is a state park that opened to the public in October of 1949 by Newton Perry along with a group of investors. This attraction opened as the roadside era of Florida was ramping up and consisted of an amalgamation of vendors including an orchid garden, a river boat tour, as well as the star attraction- the mermaid show that took place in an underwater theatre. The attraction grew to include The May Museum of the Tropics, an ‘abandoned Seminole village’, an show called “Birds of Prey”, and a petting zoo. As theme parks became the new norm for Florida’s tourist industry, Weeki Wachee Springs began steadily declining until the state of Florida absorbed the attraction into the state park system in 2008. The attraction now focuses on appealing to a modern audience, while still preserving its rich history.


Black and White Photograph


Weeki Wachee Springs


Original B&W photograph of Rita King, 1967: Private Collection of Rita King.


Date Created


Date Copyrighted


Date Issued


Is Format Of

Digital Reproduction of original photograph: 1967; Scanned by RICHES Team. RICHES, Orlando, Florida.

Is Part Of




557 KB


B&W Photograph


Still Image


Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Humanities Teacher
Visual Arts Teacher
Theater Teacher


Originally created by Weeki Wachee Springs, owned by Rita King, and published by RICHES.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by Rita King and is provided here by RICHES for educational purposes only.

Contributing Project

Florida Humanities Council Community Grant Program and Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park


Schwandt, Rebecca

Digital Collection

Source Repository

Private Collection of Rita King.

External Reference

Allman, T.D. Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013.
Ammidown, Margot. “Edens, Underworlds, and Shrines: Florida’s Small Tourist Attractions.” The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 23, (1998): 238-259.
Georgiadis, Bonnie and Lu Vickers. Weeki Wachee Mermaids. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012.
Hollis, Tim. Glass Bottom Boats and Mermaid Tails: Florida’s Tourist Springs. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2006.
Pelland, Dan and Maryan Pelland. Images of America: Weeki Wachee. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
Revels, Tracy J. Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011.
Vickers, Lu. Weeki Wachee City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.


Weeki Wachee Springs. “Weeki Wachee Mermaid Rita King Posing Underwater with a Welcome Home Sign for Her Parents.” RICHES of Central Florida accessed December 6, 2023, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/11180.



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