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'Mermaid' makes splash in Louisiana

By By Danielle Grossman
Published On: Aug 06 2014 08:59:04 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 07 2014 09:39:38 AM CDT
Baton Rogue mermaid

NBC 33 Staff/WVLA

BATON ROGUE, La. (WVLA) -

If you're at a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area pool, don't be surprised if you bump into a "mermaid." Vanessa Lewis is turning heads as she splashes into pools across Louisiana's Capitol City.

It's just like any other pool on a hot summer day filled with kids, playing and splashing around. But wait, it might not be just the kids trying to beat the heat.

"I have made such a splash, so to speak," said Lewis, who is splashing around town with her new, custom-made mermaid tail. "The tail is quite heavy and I was worried I was going to drown when I first put it on."

The tail, which set her back nearly $500, is catching everyone's attention.

"I am pretty excited about it, and my kids think it's really cool as well," noted Lewis.

Although her son Layden says he doesn't like mermaids, his mom's new hobby has its perks.

"I like it because she gets to take me to water parks," said Layden.
But really, why dress as a mermaid?
"I've always been enchanted with mermaids ever since I was a little girl, just the beauty, the myth, the folklore surrounding mermaids," said Lewis.
But a lot of little girls like mermaids. So the question remains, why is this mother of two, a wife and Louisiana State University professor, dressing up like a mythical creature?
"Because she likes mermaids," said Layden.
"I wondered what it feels like to swim in a mermaid tail, so I found a guy online a few years ago who crafts these custom mermaid tails for fashion magazines," Lewis said.
And eventually, Lewis says she wants to use her hobby to not only bring smiles to little ones' faces, but to give back in a special way.
"I thought one thing that would be a unique outlet was if I could promote Louisiana conservation, coastal preservation, Louisiana waterways and sportsman paradise," Lewis said.
The inside of the tail is made of the same fabric used in a wet suit.

Lewis is making free appearances around Baton Rogue for now, but she's considering charging people for her appearances in the future.