LAS VEGAS (AP) - They were far from the ocean, but hundreds of people made a splash in Las Vegas at what organizers called the first mermaid convention.
Mer-Con 2011 was held Friday at the Silverton Casino, which features a 117,000-gallon aquarium filled with sharks, fish and performers dressed as mermaids, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun reported.
The gathering drew women - and some men - who enjoy dressing up
as mermaids as a hobby. Participants came from across the country, as well as Australia and Denmark.
The highlight of the one-day event was a beauty pageant in which 28 women vied for the title of queen mermaid. Contestants, who
ranged in age from 10 months to 42 years, wore their "land clothes" before posing as mermaid. Two male mermaids competed for the title of king.
Vendors were on hand selling handmade mermaid tails, jewelry, hair extensions and clothes. An artist painted mermaid pictures while authors sold mermaid-themed books. Young girls promoted their mermaid videos on YouTube.
"I've discovered that I hate having legs," participant Allie Causin of Minnesota told the Review-Journal. "And I hate oxygen ... There's this serenity about the water. I love the freedom of the water."
Malena Sharkley, who has been dressing as a mermaid for eight years, agreed.
"It's an escape," she told the Sun. "It's about getting to dress up and bring out the personality of your mermaid. There are spunky mermaids and moody ones - everything."
Mermaids are poised to knock vampires and zombies off their top-of-the-pop culture perch, said Sita Lange, convention organizer. They're showing up in novels, comic books, YouTube, television and movies.
"I've been making mermaid tails for years, and I've met a lot of people," Lange said. "We've been talking online for 10 to 15 years, I thought we might as well meet. Now, turns out mermaids are the new big thing."