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Chester County Press

Lessons about conservation from a friendly mermaid

06/20/2019 12:31PM ● By J. Chambless

The Chesapeake Mermaid teaches some simple sign language to the audience during her program on June 20. (Photo by John Chambless)

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The first Summer Fun Day of the season got off to a magical start on June 20 at the Penn Township Building.

The Chesapeake Mermaid brought her multimedia show to a large audience of children and parents beginning at 10 a.m., although one young girl showed up early to look at the mermaid’s chair, whispering, “That’s where the mermaid sits!”

Stories, a song and information about life in the bay were part of the hour-long program.

 The mermaid was wheeled out to her stage on a rolling chair since she couldn’t walk on her fins, smiling brightly and waving to the children seated on the floor. She engaged the sometimes squirmy audience with quick lessons in sign language – “D is for dolphin! Can you move your hands like a dolphin swimming?” – and then read from a storybook, The Last Bivalvian.

The audience loved pretending to be oysters, hunching over on the floor and then opening when a wave came along, eating everything they could before they closed up again.

Sprinkled throughout the engaging, one-hour program were some facts about the Chesapeake Bay, sea life and conservation, as well as a few tidbits for parents. Eons ago, she pointed out, the ocean covered much of the Chesapeake Bay region. The dividing line of bedrock was along a familiar modern-day line – I-95. “The road was built along that strip of bedrock, so everything to the south of I-95 used to be ocean,” the Mermaid pointed out.

The big hits of the day were the giant tooth from a prehistoric shark, a sing-along about oyster bed replenishment, and the contents of a mermaid’s purse, which turned out to be environmentally friendly things like reusable sandwich bags, bamboo straws and cloth shopping bags, “available on Amazon,” the Mermaid pointed out.

There was a long line of excited kids at the end of the program as the Chesapeake Mermaid posed for photos and let each child hold their favorite stuffed fish. “This is my story, and it’s part of your story, too,” she told the audience at one point. “The story will continue with what all of you can do someday for the Chesapeake Bay.”

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The fun continues in Penn Township with the Outdoor Summer Movie Series at sunset on July 12 (“Jurassic Park”) and Aug. 9 (“Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse”). Starting at 7 p.m., there will be food and ice cream for sale, free face painting and yard games.

The Second Sunday Summer Concert Series in Penn Township Park will feature the Panama Rex Band on July 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., with food trucks from M&M Catering and Ole Tapas. On Aug. 11, it’s Sunset Park Day from 3 to 8 p.m., with Revolution Heroes, the Stone Mountain Road Blue Grass Band, food trucks, carnival games, a train ride and more.

The free Summer Fun Day series continues in Penn Township Park (260 Lewis Rd., West Grove) on July 18 and Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon.

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To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email

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