Last year, a lifelike, blue-haired mannequin-turned-mermaid named Marina once straddled 50-foot-high Ross Rock at Sunset Cliffs. She was taken down and mysteriously disappeared in June 2018.
Enter Marina’s “sister,” Vera, who has since replaced her and become the beach community’s de facto mascot.
“Vera the OB mermaid is positive magic and energy in Ocean Beach,” claims longtime Obecian Claudia Jack, who, along with her “crew,” including interior decorator Marna Cahn and muralist Janis Ambrosiani, is responsible for the nautical nymph’s triumphant return.
“Vera is a happy piece of OB, another piece of history here,” noted Jack.
When Marina went missing, Jack refused to abandon the search to replace her as some advised. “I devised my story that Marina is still out swimming, and that Vera is her sister,” Jack said.
Born-again mermaid Vera starred in last year’s OB Christmas parade. She rode in a lifeguard boat surrounded by her “court” of 20 mermaidettes and their parents.
Vera has since been gracing OB storefronts, switching locales every month. “It’s an attention-getter,” noted Jack.
So far, Vera has been at a pet store and at the James Gang printers. She’s inhabited a seat at The Electric Chair Salon and resided at Seams to Me.
Other “tour stops” for Vera are to include OB Surf & Skate (her current location), Sunset Clipps, Pruett Realty and 2141 Salon in Point Loma.
Jack said the reaction of people, especially young people, to Vera has been truly “amazing,” with most everyone wanting to have their photos taken with her.
Recalling Vera’s creation, Jack noted they started by sending away for a boxed store mannequin that had to be shipped and reassembled. “They put her together, rearranged her wig into a pony tail, and did her skin tone,” Jack said. “We didn’t want her to be voluptuous and sexy. We wanted her to be a mermaid that 5-year-olds could stand next to and hug.”
Two local businesses who’ve had Vera say she was a pleasure to have her around.
“Vera spent May at Details SalonSpa,” said Barbara Iacometti. “Many days she was seen lounging in the lobby. She had a new hairstyle nearly every day. Often times she would be sitting in a styling chair next to other salon guests while they were getting their hair done. She was the talk of the salon among our guests and staff alike. It was a sad day when Vera moved on, but we did enjoy our time with her.”
“My husband Shane and I own Shore Thing Pet Supply in OB and we recently had the privilege of having Vera hang out with us in our store for a month,” said Erika Bancroft. “She was a huge draw for everyone in town who remembers the mermaid out on the rock. As a new business within the community, we're so happy to be a part of the Mermaid's history.”
What’s next for Vera?
Jack will concede only that the mermaid will be in this year’s Christmas parade again. She hinted there’s a big secret about her that will be revealed then.
Though ultimately, Jack has even more ambitious plans for OB’s native mermaid.
“I would love to have a bronze mermaid next to the (bronze) lifeguard at the OB Lifeguard Station,” she said. “That’s my long-term goal.”
Anyone with questions about Vera may call Jack at 619-846-6269 or visit OB’s mermaid on Facebook.