There have been Elvis sightings all over the world but not quite like the one that took place in the Tampa Bay area nearly 60 years ago. That’s when “The King” met The Weeki Wachee Mermaids.
It happened July 30, 1961. A day that will forever be a part of Hernando County history.
Vicki Smith remembers the day like it was yesterday. “Elvis Presley came to Weeki Wachee. He could have gone anywhere. But he came to Weeki Wachee,” she said.
The event drew about 3,000 screaming fans just to get a glimpse of the man himself, Elvis Presley. But Smith wasn’t there just because of Elvis. She was there to put on her swimsuit and slide into a fish tail and perform in front of him.
“He was so good looking and he was this total, ultimate Southern gentleman. He had each one of us come up and he presented to us his latest LP! He signed mine ‘warmest wishes, to Vicki. Elvis Presley,” she recalled.
But don’t think this vibrant lady has hung up her mermaid tail. No way! She is Weeki Wachee’s oldest living performer. Smith says it’s something she’s very proud of and she’s also just as proud to share the story of that special day so many years ago. “I always tell the audience before each show that I did swim for Elvis Presley and he was so cute! But so was I in 1961!”
Elvis was in the area because he was filming the movie, “Follow That Dream” at the Old Citrus County Courthouse. It was the 33rd highest-grossing movie of 1962.