Party with mermaids—is that even possible? Oh, it’s definitely possible. And it’s happening in Austin, Texas. Maria Russo and her partner Jason Darling are bringing fantasy to life with Sirenalia, a component of their specialty staffing company, Austin Occasions which is highly rated on Thumbtack. Go behind the scenes of this magical performance company to get ideas for your next big event.
What does Sirenalia do?
We make special mermaid appearances at children’s parties—usually pool parties. We also perform at special events and charity functions when the planners want something extra magical. Our mermaids have been featured in videos, commercials, and underwater photo shoots.
How many mermaids work with you?
We have two women who work with us in the shop who are also professional mermaids. We have additional, on-call mermaids who come in for larger events. Four of us comprise the core team of Sirenalia.
What does it take to be a Sirenalia mermaid?
Everyone on our team has a background in children’s education. We require training in early learning and child development, first aid skills, CPR certification, and of course strong swimming skills. The women that work with us are mermaids. They love the lifestyle and identify with the mermaid imagery, care deeply for the ocean, and adore being a fantastical creature for a while. We make all the costumes, the headdresses, the tails—we put together timelines and activities for the parties—it’s really fun and playful, and it’s also a full-time job.
What do your mermaids do at the parties?
At kid’s parties: The mermaid is carried in by her “mermaid handler” (a strapping young man) who sets her, and her mermaid goodies, up in a pre-determined spot. The event starts with her meeting all the children and handing out small gifts such as seashells. She transforms the kids into mermaids with the help of the waterproof glitter face paint Sirenalia has developed. Then, she gets into the pool and swims and plays make believe with the kids. She also has a metal tea set that sinks, bringing an underwater tea party magically to life. The event wraps with her facilitating a mermaid photo shoot with the kids.
At special events: Sirenalia’s mermaids appear at all kinds of events. We’ve done one bachelorette party, but no weddings…yet. Often people hire us as a special surprise for a mermaid lover who is the party’s guest of honor. We do fundraisers, such as a recent one for Colin’s Hope, a drowning awareness foundation. We’ve had mermaids bartending and serving champagne from poolside, it’s all very fantastical and creative. If you can imagine it, we can do it.
How long do mermaids appear at a party?
One hour is perfect for a children’s party. That’s how long the concept is magical for them. We like to leave when they’re still sad to see us go, it’s more enchanting for them that way. If it’s a large party, we suggest having more than one mermaid, as opposed to extending the time we are there. Adult parties we sometimes stay longer.
How far out should be people book special entertainment?
Anywhere from two weeks to six months. The farther in the future you book, the more time we have to put thought and creative planning into the event.
Any tips when hiring entertainment?
Find a competent team who will be able to execute your party with grace. Talk with the coordinators and the entertainers and make sure you have confidence in them. Read reviews and get a feel for past performances. And, plan ahead—more prep time means a better execution.
What’s your favorite part of being an entertainer?
Interacting with the children. Being able to make something that is magical and unbelievable come to life for the kids is really special.
What other sorts of party things do you do?
In addition to appearances, Sirenalia offers mermaid retreats—week-long, all-inclusive vacations where we teach you how to be a mermaid. The last two years our retreats took place in Belize. This year we’ll offer a San Marcos, Texas retreat that will benefit local river foundations.
Sirenalia also makes and sells earth (and ocean!) friendly mermaid tails. They’re crafted from platinum-cure silicone—a non-toxic material specially designed not to chip or flake, thereby protecting oceans and rivers when the mermaids are out in the wild. Fun fact: this is the same type of silicone prosthetic limbs and food molds are made from. The beautiful colors in the mermaid tails are achieved by pitting the silicone with mica powders.
[All photos via Maria Russo and Sirenalia]