WEEKIE WACHEE — An adagio is a piece of music performed slowly and gracefully. It’s also the name of the pose a pair of oh-so-graceful masonry mermaids are striking high atop the column rising out of the iconic fountain at the entrance to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

And thanks to months-long project by some experts in the field of vintage masonry restoration, that fountain now looks as good as the day it was unveiled in 1966.

The fountain was showing its age and really needed refreshing, said Debby Weeks, membership coordinator with the Friends of Weeki Wachee, a volunteer nonprofit group that raises money for park projects like the fountain restoration.

“We caught it just in time,” she said, adding the contractor that performed the work did “an excellent job.”

Alexandra Kuchta, press secretary for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said the work involved patching cracks, painting and applying a protective epoxy sealant. The work came to $25,000 and was completed at the end of last month by professional historic masonry repair firm Western Construction Group out of St. Louis, Missouri. A company certified in historic preservation had to be used because the fountain is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Kuchta.

Weeks said her group is seeking donations to help recover the cost of the work. Because the park was closed for several months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends were forced to cancel several fundraising activities, and now that the park has reopened members are playing catch-up to replenish coffers.

Weeks said anyone interested in helping can click the “Donate” button on the group’s website at www.friendsofweekiwachee.com. The Friends also run the T-shirt and gift shop at the entrance to the park, the proceeds going to support the group’s efforts at the park.

Weeks said the adagio pose of the fountain’s mermaids was created by retired Weeki Wachee mermaid Diane Wyatt McDonald, who is 91 and believed to be living in St. Petersburg.

The pose is so eloquent it seemed to embody the meaning of the word used by musicians and composers to describe the slow and graceful portions of classical music, so the name stuck all those years ago when McDonald performed for audiences in the spring’s underwater theater, said Weeks.

The Weeki Wachee attraction was founded in 1947 by swimmer, diver and promoter Newt Perry, with the mermaid show stage being the first-magnitude spring itself. The spring is one of the deepest natural caverns in the U.S., and some 117 million gallons of water flows from it daily. The water is crystal-clear and stays at a temperature of 74 degrees all year.

The spring opening leads down to an extensive network of underwater caves that run south of the attraction, as well as east beneath and beyond U.S. 19.

After removing old rusted refrigerators, cars and other debris that had been dumped into the spring, Perry began developing a system of air hoses underwater performers used instead of clunky dive tanks that would have distracted from the graceful underwater ballet performed by the mermaids. In the early days of the attraction, U.S. 19 was a little-traveled two-lane road, and it’s said whenever the mermaids, who at that time had not yet adopted mermaid tails, heard a car approaching, they would dash to the highway in their swimsuits to beckon passersby to come in to watch the show.

The attraction has had different owners over the years, including the American Broadcasting Company, which had the marketing budget to put the attraction on the map and make it one of the nation’s most popular destinations in the 1960s.

The state took over the attraction in 2008 and it is now part of Florida’s park system.