With Disney’s The Little Mermaid packing movie theaters this summer, there is a resurgence in popularity for all things mer; there’s even the trending hashtag “mermaidcore,” which celebrates an aesthetic of shimmery sequins and paillettes, dreamy shades of aqua and coral, and mermaid-like silhouettes in fashion. Far from new, these fantastic creatures with the upper body and head of a human and tail of a fish have been swimming about in folklore and mythology for centuries, long before Hans Christian Andersen penned the fairy tale in 1836. With 400 miles of shoreline, it seems quite natural that the Ocean State would have its share of mermaids – and businesses devoted to these enchanting sea dwellers.
“I am a Rhode Island native and grew up making memories on all of the beaches across Rhode Island,” begins Alyssa Wick, founder of The Rhode Island Mermaid, a venture providing professional mermaid entertainment for parties and public events. This year Wick, who is Freedive/PADI certified (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), will debut the region’s first and only transportable viewing tank, which holds 2,400 gallons of water and has a seven-by-six-foot acrylic window – “so that people can enjoy watching a mermaid in her natural underwater habitat,” she explains.
Wick’s original plan was to become a rescue swimmer but that dream was sunk during her senior year of high school when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and didn’t qualify to join the US Coast Guard. Fast forward to today, and after years of building a career in the corporate world and juggling life as a single parent, Wick felt disconnected to the buoyant side of herself and returned to the water as a means of rediscovering playfulness with her daughter. “An important part of who I am and felt I had lost was brought back to life through this as a hobby, before it ever turned into a business,” says Wick. “The challenge of consistently growing this skill set and the associated accomplishments and experiences under the water, and the joy of being part of such magical moments for kids… that makes this side of my professional life so special to me.”
“Mermaids embody the spirit you feel when you are underwater watching the rays of sunshine through the surface,” says Jessie Jewels of Warwick, a Save The Bay beach captain, full-time mermaid, underwater model, and artist. Additionally, Jewels represents the state in pageants, and since 2021 has held the title of Miss Mermaid Rhode Island. “My platform is working with Save The Bay to help make our bay clean and accessible for all,” says Jewels, who founded her own charity last year, Save The Bay - Save The Mermaids, where a portion of proceeds from her mermaid-themed art and events go directly to the nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up and improving Narragansett Bay.
Goods & Mermaiding Swim Lessons
Behind a blue door on Bristol’s State Street discover a treasure trove in this gallery, shop, studio and Center for Oceans Watch, an international non-profit dedicated to conservation and sustainability. Owner Bonnie Blue is a sculptor, artist, author, and certified swim instructor so along with selling artwork and books, you can enroll in Mermaid/Merboy lessons in a swimming pool with a photo shoot. HealingDolphins.com
Visits & Parties
If you’re looking to make a splash at your next event in water or on land, Alyssa Wick’s mermaids and sirens are available to make the scene, offering performances that include sing-a-longs, charades, bubble wishes, and more. TheRhodeIslandMermaid.com
Feeling mer-curious? Take part in an Ocean State Merfolk Meetup led by Erin Walsh, where like-minded merfolk are encouraged to join the pod and swim (often at the Smithfield YMCA). Please note this is an adults-only cosplay group. OceanStateMerfolk.com
Makeovers & Art Making
Ever dream of swapping your legs for a shimmering tale? Jessie Jewels can work her magic and turn humans of all ages into mermaids, sirens, or selkies. And to prove it all happened, there’s a photoshoot on the beach. JessieJewelsArt.com
From her Bristol studio, Melonie Massa handcrafts stunning sailor’s valentines, wine stoppers, jewelry, and more all fashioned from “an ocean of treasures” for her Mermaid’s Baubles brand. Pieces are available at Hotpoint Emporium, Bristol; Harbor View Artisans, Wickford; and similar art co-ops. Learn more about Massa on page 68.
A short walk from Wickford harbor, The Mermaid’s Purl is the perfect place for spinning a yarn. Owned by Lizzie Shriner, who says, “I’ve always considered myself part mermaid,” the shop is a destination for knitters, stocked with skeins bearing names like Siren Song, along with Mermaid Mitt Kits, and more. Merch bearing their lovely mermaid logo includes a custom stitch marker by local maker Katrinkles, a pin, apparel, tote bag, and more. TheMermaidsPurl.com
Tucked behind Alfie’s Surf Shop on Westerly’s Atlantic Avenue is Little Mermaid’s. The name implies that it could be owned by Ariel herself but whoever is manning the grill keeps beachgoers happy and full with solid breakfast and lunch diner classics that you can sink a dinglehopper into. Did we mention ice cream? Instagram: @LittleMermaidsRI
Cast a glow with a Mermaid Tail Glitter Lamp, be styling with a Flip Sequin Mermaid Tale Drawstring Backpack, or keep cozy with a Mermaid Tale Wearable Blanket. All this can be yours from Rhode Island Novelty, a seller of toys and gifts since 1986. RINovelty.com
Nearly all Rhody-based jewelry sellers have pieces that harken the sea, like the Sea Life Station Necklace by RS Pure, a subsidiary of Ross-Simons, sure to add allure with its small charms on 14kt yellow gold (RSPure.com),
and the Iconic Mermaid necklace at Pink Pineapple at 380 Thames Street in Newport (PinkPineappleShop.com).
Along with other sweet treats, Chocolate Delicacy in Warwick makes beautiful molded Mermaid Pops for sale in both milk and dark chocolate, and Sweenor’s Chocolates (Wakefield, Wickford) sells seashells and starfish. ChocolateDelicacy.com; SweenorsChocolates.com
Toast King Triton on Block Island with a glass of Tipsy Mermaid Red Sangria at Poor People’s Pub. A colorful mix of organic red wine, açai berry, and orange juice with a splash of soda is perfect for landlubbers.
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