Mermaids share their story

Carla Allen
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The women whose creativity helped their Seafest parade entry win first place for Best Creative Theme Entry, as well as the People’s Choice award, worked for three weeks on their costumes – two plaid-shirt-clad fishermen that appeared to be carrying them, as mermaids, in treasure chests.

Brittney Blake and Sydney Fuller with their creations (Robert and Gilles). The girls won Best Creative Theme Entry and People’s Choice awards for all their hard work.Carla Allen photo

Sydney Fuller says she got the idea off Youtube last year.

“I stumbled upon a type of illusion costume that looked like two young girls were being carried away by men. They had fake legs jutting out in front of them and arms around their waist. I thought it was really cool,” she said.

“I thought it would be neat if the characters carrying the mermaids were Yarmouth fishermen. I wrangled Brittney (Blake) into doing it with me.”

The Community Access Program (C@P) that both girls work for – Blake at the library and Fuller at the AGNS Yarmouth branch - recently lost its funding, so creativity had to come cheap.

Three weeks before the parade, construction began.

The faces took the longest. Fuller made a plasticine face mold and two paper mache masks then painted them. Combed out yarn became hair. Cardboard shipping tubes, a pool noodle and bubble wrap became the arms, biceps and shoulders, as well as a torso, complete with a potbelly. Gloves were stuffed with thimbles to resemble fingers and the tails were fashioned from a piece of painted, inside-out bubble wrap.

“We pretty much used everything a regular craft store would hold, plus what the art gallery had,” said Blake.

“We’d come in on our days off and go downstairs in the basement and work on it,” added Fuller.

How to attach the stuffed men to the carriers stumped the creators for a while, but Fuller’s mother came up with the idea of using backpacks with lots of duct tape.

Hair extensions not only made the mermaids more glamorous, they effectively covered the straps on the backpacks.

The walk that the girls adopted was an added attraction.

“All during the construction we’d try parts on and look into the mirror and stand a certain way and act like the ‘men’ were bearing weight and struggling under it,” said Fuller.

“We had a (musical) band in front of us,” added Blake. “Next thing you know we had our own dance moves and people were really enjoying it. We kind of fed off their energy,” she said.

The girls handed out gold wrapped chocolate coins, and suckers from their treasure chests.

Some spectators ended up chasing their entry down the street for a picture. They had been so caught up in the performance they hadn’t snapped one as the girls were passing.

Blake’s costume began falling apart near the end of the parade but Fuller had brought a roll of duct tape for potential problems. She patched her up as they moved along.

The two say they have “a few more tricks up their sleeve” for future parades, including possibly the Christmas one.

“I think it would be nice to set a new precedent and for everyone to get inspired and start making their own costumes. It’s so rewarding,” said Fuller.

“We really hope to see some copycats next year. Maybe we can start our own little crew of paper mache parade walkers,” added Blake.

Geographic location: Yarmouth

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