The guys who placed the lifelike, blue-haired mannequin-turned-mermaid astride 50-foot-high Ross Rock thought she would fit right in with the mellow beach vibe of Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs.
“It just seemed appropriate with the culture of OB and being right there on Sunset Cliffs,” said “Ray,” a lifelong San Diegan and 18-year Obecian, who was among a group of friends responsible for Marina the mermaid’s appearance. “That was what we landed on right away.”
In actuality, Marina is just one of a long line of community “symbols” that have graced Ross Rock over the years, according to Ray, who requested anonymity.
“There have been a variety of things that have shown up on top of that rock,” said Ray, “The first thing I remember was a big red crab. Then there was a tiki head, Easter Island-looking structure. Then a stained-glass peace sign, a double of which was made by the same artist, now at OB Hostel.”
Why go through all that trouble to put Marina on the rock?
“It was kind of a project and something we knew would be unique to OB,” answered Ray. “We just wanted to do it. We thought it would be a great summer thing for the community, and for OB. We never anticipated her getting as much attention as she did.”
Ray credited his Arizona friend for inventing the mermaid concept.
“He was the artist who built it over there in Arizona before bringing it back here,” he said.
Ray and friends used a rope ladder on the afternoon of Memorial Day to get Marina to the top of Ross Rock, denying claims it came at the expense of the landform.
“No damage was done,” Ray said. “We just used a rope ladder and there were spikes and things left over from other stuff that was put up there, that we just used to anchor her. It took us about 2 1/2 hours.”
Their plan, said Ray, “was to leave her up there through July.”
Ray said there was no particular reason why Memorial Day was chosen to put Marina on Ross Rock other than “it was just one of those things where we were able to get everybody together to do it at that time.”
Why take Marina down after July?
Said Ray: “We knew that the elements would take their toll on her over time. We just didn’t want anything that was tacky up on the rock. We didn’t want to just let it go to trash, and everybody start being negative about her being up on the rock. We might have kept her up there through July and into August, if the elements were kind to her. We weren’t going to leave her up if she started looking bad.”
But the plans of Ray and his friends were foiled by Marina’s “hijackers.” A group of locals, calling themselves the “Cliffs Crew,” took credit for absconding with Marina on June 13. They carried her off without warning, claiming they feared for people climbing towering Ross Rock to take selfies with her.
Ray doesn’t buy it.
“I was down there at least once a day while she was up, and I never saw anyone attempt to take a selfie with her, or that too many people were coming to see her and causing traffic jams on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard,” he said, adding, “We would love to have her back."
Ray has been approached by the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe, and OB Hostel, which have both expressed interest in “displaying her. They think it would be cool with all the positive feeling she would generate.”
Though Marina is presently a missing mannequin,” Ray is convinced, “She’s still out there.”
Ray has seen recent photos of Marina “with one arm missing and a bong in the other hand,” and another with her “holding a beer with one arm on a beanbag chair.”
Though unwilling to disclose Marina’s actual value, Ray confided she was “not inexpensive” to make.
“Marina’s tail was made of fiberglass painted green and blue around the mannequin’s legs,” he said. “Her legs and her tiara and necklace were the design of my friend’s older daughter.”
Though he’s hopeful for Marina’s return, Ray confessed, “I don’t think we’ll ever see her again, which is unfortunate.”