BROOKSVILLE — Have you spotted them yet? Mermaids have taken over Historic Downtown Brooksville, and they can be found by following a special map around the city.
Whether scavenger hunt participants are new visitors to the area or proud locals, Brooksville Main Street has created an invigorating activity that promotes downtown businesses. The Florida Mermaid Trail officially opened in early 2020 and now, a year later, the activity has been added to Authentic Florida’s website as one of several bucket list locations to visit in 2021.
“We were looking for ways to get people to pay more attention and notice the businesses downtown, and thought that a walking trail could be fun if we did it like a scavenger-hunt kind of thing,” said Natalie Kahler, executive director of Brooksville Main Street. “The ultimate goal is that we have a line of mermaids all the way from Brooksville to Weeki Wachee Springs.”
The Florida Mermaid Trail offers two routes that vary in length. The short route is a 1.1-mile walk that has 11 bronze mermaids while the longer 2.2-mile trail features 20 mermaids on display. The trail starts at Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitor Center, 205 E. Fort Dade Ave. The trail map also shows where public restrooms and water fountains are available.
Before heading out to the trail, a digital map is available by downloading the Distrx app or Brooksville Main Street app. Thanks to a grant provided by Duke Energy, the digital map will soon have an audio component added to it giving the mermaids a voice of their own. Physical copies of the map can be picked up in a kiosk by visiting City Hall or the county commission office.
“Every mermaid is going to tell her own story in her own voice,” Kahler said. “We’re using different businesses that are along the trail to pick who they want to be their mermaid voice. It should be pretty cool to see who we end up with. We’ll actually have a few Weeki Wachee retired mermaids that will be doing the voice-overs, too.”
Businesses in the downtown area have picked up on the fun and have even started carrying mermaid merchandise for those who wander in their shops off the trail. Main Street Eatery, for example, offers handmade mermaid pins and Transformed Treasures carries stained glass mermaids for sale.
“The businesses have been very happy, it’s definitely bigger than what we have anticipated,” Kahler said. “We have businesses that are open every day, like Country Depot, and Easy Street, which is open six days, that will tell you people are coming through every day.”
With the first anniversary of the trail coming up next month, Brooksville Main Street is working to host a festival on Feb. 20. Activities will be planned that allow social distancing while meeting new people. The trail will feature additional scavenger items to find while adults, children, and pets can participate in a mermaid costume contest.
The Florida Mermaid Trail was funded by the Lowman Family Foundation and were recognized in July as the 2020 recipient of the Florida Secretary of State Merit Award for Outstanding Local Program Supporter.
For more information, visit www.floridamermaidtrail.com.