The Weeki Wachee underwater theater was the brainchild of Newton Perry, who opened the unusual park in 1947. The Florida attraction has been sold several times and is now part of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park which still offers shows of its famous mermaids. Just one year after they first opened the performers put on a Christmas show underwater in front of the huge glass panels which provide the audience with a clear view to these talented swimmers.
The performers had access to tubes which provide oxygen so that they never have to go more than 40 seconds without air (the safest scientific limit for a human to hold their breath). The mermaids are still using this method today. Have a look below at this underwater Christmas from 1948.
“Teresa Myers finds a pair of flippers (underwater swimming shoes) when she visits the underwater Christmas tree at Weekiwachee Spring.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Santa (Newton Perry) arrives early at the underwater Christmas party and has to wait for the mermaids.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Santa, ten feet below the surface, using no face plate, and breathing only from the air hose he holds, stays below by adjusting the air pressure in his lungs.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Frances Dwight performing underwater ballet in front of decorated tree for Christmas party at Weeki Wachee Springs.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Refreshments are a part of any Christmas party–but did you ever try eating a banana successfully under water? These mermaids do it, with relish. Mary Darlington is in the foreground.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Here workers fill the balls with water and hand them down to a swimmer, who will take them below.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Accustomed to working at depths even of 100 feet with a face plate and air hose, director Newt Perry stayed submerged two hours as he put the tree in place and supervised its decoration.” Via/ State Archives of Florida
“Santa (Newt Perry) gets a hug from grateful mermaid who has received a brand new pair of paddle fins for Christmas.” Via/ State Archives of Florida