Last April 16th, the San Marcos city council took a very important step towards officially designating our town as the "Mermaid Capital of Texas." This event is a big deal for everyone who loves SMTX and its beautiful river, as the "mermaid" is a perfect symbol that could help us strengthen our identity as the river-loving, legendary, creative, funky, and powerful community that we definitely are. The mermaid is also a nostalgic symbol that connects us with the times of Aquarena Springs and its popular aquatic shows including the Aquamaids and Ralph the pig; beautiful moments in history that are dear to millions of folks from around the world who visited our town, as well as thousands of people who attended Southwest Texas University, now known as Texas State. This designation is also a huge deal for the Mermaid Society, the famous local non profit lead by July Moreno, a maverick social entrepreneur, activist and community organizer.
By now you probably have heard about the Mermaid Society, they are the main folks responsible for the big mermaid revival we have been enjoying in recent years in San Marcos. They are also the organizers of Splash festival, a popular event that includes the infamous Mermaid Ball, a super fun themed party that has become the absolutely see-and-be-seen event of our city. This year, July and the Mermaid Society are taking it one step further with many very interesting developments, including the establishment of the official Mermaid Society HeadQuarters at Wonder World park.
We sat down at AquaBrew with July, a native San Marcian, to drink a nice brew and catch up with everything that the Mermaid Society has been doing. Needless to say that she's ecstatic about the new AB cans, featuring Madison, our San Marcos Blonde, and her two mermaid alter egos. We also celebrated the fact that AquaBrew is now the official sponsor of the Mermaid RoundUp, an awesome River Clean Up event that will close Splash Festival this fall.
Enjoy an exclusive interview with July Moreno, where she tells us a bit more about the non profit organization she spearheads and the different plans she is currently brewing for it.
AQUABREW: Mermaid Society has really been a strong and positive force of change here in San Marcos, Texas. Looking back at everything you guys have accomplished, what makes you the most proud?
JULY: That’s hard to choose. Seeing all the smiling faces throughout the Mermaid Festival is definitely something that has brought tears to my eyes! And then there is me sitting in the back room of Crockett Elementary library watching the “first” ever presentation by Mighty Mermaid Maya teaching our students about how they can become a Superhero like her to protect our San Marcos River! I’m blown away that we’ve come so far in such a short time. I guess I’m most proud of Mermaid Society entering it’s 4th year! We’ve done so much with so little in such a short time!
AQUABREW: Your organization seems to have many objectives, but is it to safe that taking care of the San Marcos River is one of your main focuses?
JULY: Mermaid Society uses its platform to support and celebrate ALL things San Marcos – Stewardship, Preservation, Local, Arts, Sustainability and Heritage. Stewardship and preservation of the San Marcos River is the core of our mission.
AQUABREW: Talk to us about this idea of the Mermaid Round up? We have the spring one coming on soon, and then your first humongous one in the fall. Tell us what makes this idea awesome and how can people participate?
JULY: The Mermaid Round-Up was created to introduce a river clean-up to “newbies” and of course, anyone wanting to participate. With all the attention on the celebration of our river it made sense for us to encourage connection between those who might be interested in volunteering once or multiple times a year to the great folks that take care of our river year-round. We use this platform as a simple way to introduce the first step towards river guardianship while encouraging community connection. We’re kinda like a gateway to greater involvement!
AQUABREW: Splash week has become a big attraction here in San Marcos, Texas. How much has it grown from what it was and what are your plans for this one coming up?
JULY: SPLASH is the acronym for Stewardship, Preservation, Local, Arts, Sustainability, Heritage – A celebration of all things San Marcos! We are planning for a great year. You can expect the same signature events like the Mertini Shakedown, Downtown Mermaid Parade, Mermaid Society Art Ball and the Mermaid Aqua Faire. Additionally, the River Guardianship and Arts & Culture Symposiums will be quite exciting this year. I believe we can expect more of the same goodness and fun!
AQUABREW: You guys are all extremely hard working and have given so much to our community. How can people give back to you?
JULY: There are a number of ways! Of course, monetary help is always the best way. 100% of our operational funding is what’s left after all the festival expenses have been covered, which doesn’t which doesn’t leave much. In 2018 we fundraised every dollar to cover the cost of this city-wide FREE festival. We are expected to do this again for 2019. It’s quite the job to fundraise. Businesses can help by sponsoring some part of the festival. Individuals can help by purchasing a ticket to the Art Ball, which by the way is our premiere fundraising event. However, there are simple things that also make a big difference – donate office supplies, bottled water (better yet, water cooler!) and help cover costs for our printing needs. There is a number of things we need to carry out for our youth education programming.
AQUABREW: Is there a way people can donate to your cause and/or collaborate with your organization?
JULY: Yes, you can mail a check to Mermaid Society SMTX – P.O. Box 963 San Marcos, Texas 78666 or go to our website and donate online. Mermaid Society’s core values are built on the spirit of collaboration. In fact, our motto is “let’s co-create for sustainable shared, well-being.” We believe through good collaboration, together we can create multiple ripples that make for “win-win” benefits for all involved.
AQUABREW: We know you are a good fan of AB and we really appreciate you for that... we're honored.... so, what do you like the most about our place?
JULY: What’s not to love about AB?! Seriously! I love the VIBE here! It feels familiar and inviting every time you step through the door. The food is exceptional and well, the brew is fantastic! AB is one of the few places in San Marcos that not only supports the arts, but invests considerably to promoting the arts through music and visual art events. Personally, I love that AB is homegrown San Marcos!
AQUABREW: Thank you for your time, July. Looking forward to Splash weekend and obviously the two mermaid roundups, especially the mega-epic one in the fall. We're also very excited we'll be supplying San Marcos Blonde at the Mermaid ball this year. We know it's your favorite AB beer. Do you like it because of its can design or is it the taste? ; )
JULY: I really do enjoy the taste of the San Marcos Blonde. I find it to be smooth and light tasting, and I get it most every time I come in. Paired with the Venezuelan Empanadas, my very favorite… it really is a treat! AND…. the design of the can is pretty awesome, too!
I approve of the mermaids!