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Mermaids to surface in Hudson

Mermaid Echo, also known as Hudson resident Claire VanValkenburg, high-fives a visitor during a previous event. VanValkenburg will be joined by two other mermaids on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Lakefront Park beach for a cleanup event. Photo by Kevin Chukel, courtesy of Mermaid Echo Entertainment

The waters of the St. Croix River host a variety of creatures, and this weekend they will be seeing a few more. Mermaids will make their way to the shores of Hudson on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Lakefront Park.

Among the scaled visitors will be Hudson native Claire VanValkenburg, donning her tail alongside other mermaids including Willow Ries as Seaspray Mermaid for a beach cleanup at noon.

The event, the second the group has done but the first in Hudson, is designed to engage children in cleaning up the environment.

Kids will be able to trade trash for treasure. VanValkenburg said every piece of litter picked up will be rewarded with mermaid treasure.

"It's a really fun way to get kids to sort of see the impact that pollution has on the river and be an active part of the solution," she said.

Inspiration for this event came more than a year ago, when VanValkenburg was connected with other mermaid activists, those who use their tails as a piece of activism for conservation.

"A mermaid is the perfect spokesperson for aquatic conservation," VanValkenburg said. "If a mermaid told you that you have the power to save Wisconsin's lakes and rivers, wouldn't you want to try?"

VanValkenburg, a reporter with a focus on conservation education, and Ries, a marine biologist, teamed up and developed the idea for events like these.

"Now we're bringing it back to my hometown of Hudson and I'm really excited about that," VanValkenburg said.

Kids' reactions to the visitors is one of the best parts, VanValkenburg said.

"They light up with pure surprise and excitement," she said.

And that excitement is what helps them learn. Seeing a character they love like a mermaid helps children understand and become passionate about caring for their environment, VanValkenburg said.

"All it takes is a little bit of magic and education to help them see the impact they can have," VanValkenburg said.

After a visit during RiverFest, VanValkenburg said she hopes this event continues that same focus on conservation.

Saving the earth begins on a small scale, VanValkenburg said, and work like this teaches children the power they can have on the scenic riverway right in their hometown.

"It will just keep on going," VanValkenburg said. "And we hope to inspire lifelong practices of good conservation habits."

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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