Salado’s legendary mermaid will be celebrated once again during the second Sirena Fest and Mermaid Parade, set to take place Saturday, Oct. 6, on the banks of Salado Creek.
A Mermaid Ambassador Brunch was held Thursday, Sept. 6, at Tenroc Ranch to help raise awareness for the festival. Proceeds from the brunch would also benefit Sirena Fest, a Variety Texas 501 (c) 3 children’s charity.
The vision of Sirena Fest is to eventually build an all-abilities playground in Salado. Brunch emcee Laci Gunter said having the playground would allow any child of any ability a chance to play and participate.
“I have known personally kids who have had to sit out while watching other kids who do not have disabilities, while they play they had to sit out because nothing was there that they could be a part of,” Gunter said. “So to know that ‘no’ will not be in the vocabulary when you’re at this playground just fills my heart with such joy and pride and that I can be a part of it, all the better, and it just really encompasses what the spirit of Salado is all about, which is loving children and loving the community.”
Tiffany Schreiner Humphrey, Sirena Fest founder, said they still need to raise about $75,000 to move into phase one of building the playground. She said they are working with developers and Salado Independent School District to ensure they navigate in the most efficient way possible.
Sirena Fest also supports a local non-profit organization. Last year Sirena Fest donated $4,000 to Keep Salado Beautiful. KSB was selected again as this year’s non-profit.
“Keep Salado Beautiful has been very honored by this opportunity, and we’ve had fun completing projects that we had planned, but they were unfunded,” said Susan Terry, KSB chairwoman. “The Sirena Fest $4,000 was such a gift.”
During the brunch, Terry reported on projects KSB was able to work on and complete last year, and plans for additions and completions to current parks and community gardens in the future.
“So you can see that we have put this wonderful donation to very good use and, with the community’s help, we hope to continue to make Salado even more beautiful,” she said. “KSB believes in mermaids, and we thank the mermaids for believing in us.”
Texas country singer Brandon Rhyder was announced as Sirena Fest’s first male Mermaid Ambassador during the brunch.
“There’s a huge passion in this room for Sirena Fest, for this all-abilities playground,” he said. “I just think that we’re just barely scratching the surface. I think it just has such a bright future and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Schreiner Humphrey said the inaugural mermaid parade and festival drew in more than 3,000 merfolk fans of all ages.
“This multigenerational celebration of the prismatic and very legacy of our precious, artistic village became an instant sensation,” she said.
This year the parade will begin 11 a.m. and will last 30-45 minutes. After the parade will be all-day live music, vendors, food trucks, games, water sports and performers from Circus Picnic out of Austin.
Schreiner Humphrey said there will be something for everyone, no matter how old they are.
“I think they should expect to have their creative minds blown away in the sweetest way,” she said. “It’s certainly not just your average mermaid parade; it’s one that’s centered around such a beautiful mission and cause and that fuels every aspect of what we do.”