The Norfolk Mermaids have graced the streets and buildings of Norfolk for well over a decade.
Bringing an Idea to Life
In 1999, Pete Decker, Jr. (1936-2012) introduced the idea of mermaids at Nauticus during a breakfast with 300 Norfolk leaders. The concept is attributed to his wife, Bess, who had recently returned from Chicago and suggested Norfolk do something similar to the Windy City’s “Cows on Parade” art exhibit.
Mermaids were picked to represent Norfolk’s nautical heritage, and the idea took off from there. Within a few months, local bronze sculptors mass-produced 130 life-size mermaid castings, and talented artists from all over Norfolk were commissioned to bring the castings to life.
The decorated mermaids—all different and special with their own quirky personalities—were then auctioned off at the event “Mermaids on Parade” in November, 2000.
The beautiful sculptures were placed outside hospitals, schools, community organizations, and countless other Norfolk establishments and homes.
A Symbol of Norfolk Pride
Since then, many more mermaids have been added to the family, and they have become a recognizable symbol of our city. Norfolk natives carry the mermaid symbol with them wherever they go. Whether they wear it as a necklace, a t-shirt, or simply a warm memory, the Norfolk mermaid has traveled the world.
Representing happiness, bringing us beauty, and always welcoming us home, today, the mermaid is more than a logo for the city. It’s a symbol of Norfolk pride.