The Mermaid Tale Review

What a fantastic Halloween event we had at WMODA with our “real” mermaid. Rhanu, aka Alexandra Barth, launched our challenging Mermaid Quest scavenger hunt around the museum and chatted to guests about her role in saving our ocean environment.

Evan Snow and Stacy Brown came from the 1000 Mermaids Project to talk about restoring Florida’s coral reefs with the Ocean Rescue Alliance. They brought one of their mermaid selfie tails which was a great hit with all the wannabe mermaids in attendance.

Rhanu modeled one of Chelsea Rousso’s wearable glass bikinis, which intrigued her audience. She confirmed that the glass was very comfortable to wear. Chelsea added that she could swim in it just like her mermaid tail. Kimberly Sheridan came as Rhanu’s understudy and helped our mermaid with her debut at WMODA.

Chelsea created Rhanu’s marine environment assisted by Tatiana Cochagne, who also designed mermaid inspired gowns for the event. The fabrics were donated by Valley Forge Fabrics, specialists in sustainable textiles. Rhanu was surrounded by a sea of Roger Cockram’s ceramic art. Roger is a British potter whose earlier career as a marine biologist inspires many of his stoneware vessels.

Glass art was represented by Rob Stern, who talked about his new coral heads and his magnificent blown glass conch shells. Josh Fradis displayed more of his coral caverns including a dramatic new installation that glows in the dark. Sergio Gnesin introduced us to Murano flame-working artist Dario Frare, who portrays creatures from the Venetian lagoon.

Many of our volunteers were busy with their sewing machines, creating fantastic Halloween costumes. WMODA was awash with strange sea critters, including Betsy Alexis as a jellyfish, Linda Saft as a squid, and Chelsea Rousso as an octopus. With her white wig, Chelsea was often confused with Louise Irvine, who was also dressed in black as Medusa.

The highlight of the day was when 4 year-old Savanna encountered her first mermaid. She was so excited to see Rhanu arrive at Neptune’s Palace and posed for photos with a wide smile. Rhanu had a mermaid treasure for her, which included a beautiful shell and a shark’s tooth. Visitors with a sweet tooth enjoyed a Swedish Fish candy souvenirs, courtesy of WMODA.

Guests young and old enjoyed the interactive gaming station installed by Greg Lawson of Intermix ( They “walked on water” sending fish and other sea creatures splashing in other directions. The Intermix experience is available for rental, lease, or purchase for all types of events.

Many souvenirs of the occasion were purchased at the WMODA museum shop, which is managed by Carolina Bermudez with assistance from Elyse Buchanan. Artists from our community made sea-themed gifts, including jewelry by Betsy Alexis, stoneware shell trays by Alyssa Ligmont, sea glass pendants by Lori Brown, and face masks by Tatiana Cochagne.

Our timed ticketing arrangements worked well for COVID compliance and our guests enjoyed our spacious museum in safety and comfort thanks to all the WMODA staff and volunteers, including Erica Montanez, Claudia Bailey, Betsy Kennedy, Jim Read, George Hawthorn and John Schussler. Luis Montanez was on the front-line cleaning and sanitizing to keep us safe throughout the day.

Dylan Beese of Mad Studios filmed the day’s events for a video record, which will be published on our website for virtual enjoyment of the event. Public artist Lloyd Goradesky covered the event on Facebook Live and Evan Snow shared highlights on his Choose954 platform. We are also indebted to Lori Brown, our graphic designer and webmaster, for all the wonderful promotional materials.

Dive into the WMODA shop for some great sea-themed gifts.

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Watch Louise Irvine present our Majolica Mermaids in our new Curator's Choice video series