The Legendary Las Vegas Mermaids
Legend has it that spotting a mermaid brings you luck for the rest of the day.
As luck would have it, the focal point of the Silverton Casino is an astonishing 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with thousands of tropical fish, one hundred species of fish, four distinct species of sharks, five species of stingray and… yes… a unique class of Las Vegas Mermaids.
The Silverton Aquarium is currently home to eight such mermaids, beautifully costumed to bring the mystical creatures of the deep to life Thursdays through Sundays. Since the aquarium opened in 2004, the Silverton Mermaids have made more than 500,000 individual appearances.
Becoming a mermaid requires a unique resume and countless hours spent in the water. Although most Silverton Mermaids are certified divers, their special uniforms – seashell bikini tops and tails – are not attached to scuba tanks. Instead, the performers breathe from so-called “hookah ports” throughout the aquarium reef, taking in just enough air to greet passers-by before returning for more air.
Through the years, more than 20 mermaids have donned fins at Silverton. An elite group, many former mermaids have been part of the UNLV synchronized swimming program, and even Cirque du Soleil performers. One famous alum, Heather Carrasco, is best known as a gold medalist in the 1996 USA Olympic Swim Team.
The mermaids have been featured in the media over the years and they have even assisted with Project Mermaids, a non-profit organization helping to bring awareness to Save Our Beach Foundation.
“People are always surprised to know that we have sting rays and sharks in the tank, and they’re also surprised to know that they’re very, very docile and very sweet and not dangerous whatsoever,” said mermaid Logan Halverson in a 2018 feature in the Las Vegas Review Journal. “It’s fun and it’s really nice to be able to get in and kind of zone out of my everyday life. It’s very, very relaxing.”
“My favorite part of being a professional mermaid is seeing the faces of the children who visit and how they light up. This is real for them, this is their fairy tales comes to life. It’s such a heartwarming feeling to be that for them,” stated former mermaid Ari Luizzi, in a 2014 feature in Los Angeles Times.
FUN FACTS ABOUT LAS VEGAS MERMAIDS
- Silverton Mermaids have made more than 500,000 individual appearances since the opening of the casino’s aquarium.
- The Silverton Mermaids each spend about 15 minutes per swim, along with a safety diver. They are sometimes lowered into the tank on a special swing created for their grand arrival.
- Mermaids prefer cooler water. The water temperature in the Silverton Aquarium is kept at a balmy 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The tails and fins worn by the Silverton Mermaids each weigh about 3 pounds.
- Silverton’s Underwater Wedding package gives new meaning to the phrase “taking the plunge.” Couples who are certified in scuba diving can get hitched in the Silverton Aquarium. All the gear and, thankfully, a full safety team are provided. If couples want to wear traditional attire, a weighted man’s vest and bride’s veil are available. Vows are exchanged below the surface, and the bride has the option to be accompanied by mermaids instead of her bridesmaids. Underwater Wedding packages start at $3,000 (plus related fees) and include a one-night hotel stay along with an underwater ceremony rehearsal.
- Wedding Ceremonies are also available in front of the aquarium, with a provided officiant and seating for up to 40 guests, starting at $700 (plus related fees).
- For those who have dreamed of being a mermaid, Silverton’s Las Vegas Mermaid School provides an opportunity. As part of the magical 90-minute experience, fans ages 7 and older (including adults!) are transformed into a famed Silverton Mermaid and swim in the casino’s 117,000-gallon aquarium, along with thousands of tropical fish and rays.
- During the holidays, the Silverton Mermaids share their habitat with holiday icons. During previous years, appearances have been made by Santa Claus and The Grinch. Thanks to a state-of-the-art underwater microphone system, kids are able to speak directly to Santa during his underwater dives.
- In 2001, a Mermaid Convention (or MerCon, for short) was held at Silverton, attracting dozens of attendees who enjoy dressing as merfolk. The convention was also the site of the first International Mermaid Pageant.
- In 2015, Silverton hosted a special game of underwater poker inside the aquarium to promote the nonprofit organization Dive Alliance, which supports veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. With thousands of exotic fish swimming around, the poker players competed in a friendly game of poker, betting with poker chips made of clay so that they wouldn’t float. The dealer was a Silverton Mermaid, which provided an unforgettable experience for the veterans. (Video: https://vimeo.com/144935275)