An effort is underway to resurrect the homemade mermaid, originally manufactured in Arizona, which earlier this year sat atop towering Ross Rock at Sunset Cliffs before it was removed.
Replacing the nautical nymph has become the personal mission of longtime Ocean Beach MainStreet staffer Claudia Jack.
“People call me almost every day asking, ‘What’s happened to the mermaid?,’” said Jack, who playfully replies, “She’s out taking a swim.”
Jack once had a 7-year-old girl call in tears saying, “I wanted to have my picture taken with her.”
“There’s fantasy in everything,” says Jack, who, after thoughtful reflection, realized she could help at least one community fantasy, the return of the mermaid, come true.
So Jack and a handful of others in OB whom she calls her “mermaid team,” are conspiring to bring back the mermaid, formerly called Marina. They’ve even given her a new moniker: Vera.
“Vera sounds sort of funky and smooth,” said Jack. “She’s peaceful, not wild, just merry.”
The latest scuttlebutt on the missing mermaid is that she’s broken beyond repair. Two different small groups of local men are responsible for first placing — then displacing — the lifelike, blue-haired mannequin-turned-mermaid. One group put her up on her 50-foot-high perch on Memorial Day. The other group took her down a few weeks later.
An Obecian identifying himself as “Ray” admitted to the Beacon that one of his buddies from Arizona “created” Marina in his garage, then brought her back here because they felt “she would fit right in with the mellow beach vibe of Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs.”
A separate 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 Ross Rock to take selfies with her.
Marina the mermaid has joined a pantheon of other community “symbols” that have graced the rock Sunset Cliffs. At various times, a big red crab, a tiki head, a ’60s peace sign (now at OB Hostel), a bird, even a commode, by one account, have all served as symbols for the beach community.
But Marina/Vera is special. “We’re saving the mermaid,” vowed Jack, noting she launched her mermaid revival recently by sending out 250 postcards with the mermaid’s photo on them to everyone she knew in town.
“My theory was to bring her back,” said Jack. “So I started talking to everybody at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market and the beach about it.”
Since the original mermaid mannequin is out of commission, Jack said, “So we’ll make a new one,” adding, “This is where we’re at right now.”
Without revealing all the details, Jack said she’s found a new home for the mermaid-to-be, not on Ross Rock, but somewhere on Newport Avenue. She added other community members have volunteered to help create Vera.
Jack said the idea is to have Vera built in time for December’s OB Christmas parade.
“My wish is to pull the tape off and unveil the new mermaid during the parade, then have children be able to have their picture taken posing with her afterward alongside the community Christmas tree,” Jack said.