Earlier this year, my good friend Heather heard about the first annual MerCon/World Mermaid Awards that was scheduled to be held at the Mirage in Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course, due to our undying love of mermaids, we made plans to go. A few weeks before the event, unforeseen circumstances caused the location to move to the Silverton Hotel and Casino. The Silverton is about three miles off the Vegas Strip, but with a free shuttle to and from the Strip, that fact would not deter me from staying at the Silverton again. It was very reasonably priced, the staff was very sweet and courteous, and everything was comfortable. The best part about the Silverton: they have a Starbucks. The Starbucks became very handy, as we used it whenever we needed to find our way around the casino and hotel. We need to go to the convention center? Great, find the Starbucks and it’ll be in this direction! We need to find the lobby? Great! Find the Starbucks and… well, you get the idea!

The Silverton is also a mermaid-themed hotel. They have a 117,000 gallon salt water aquarium with mermaid performers (SCUBA certified, with a SCUBA diver hiding out in the background, like a creeper… no, really, it’s necessary, of course, but it was kind of jarring to see someone covered in black scuba diving gear watching the first time we noticed the diver) who take in oxygen through a hose and perform for guests. The mermaid above was in the aquarium when we walked into the hotel and was playing with the children. One little girl leaned in to kiss the glass. It was adorable!

We arrived on Thursday, so we toured the hotel before turning in for the night. The next morning, MerCon began. We stopped by in the morning and toured the tables set up by the vendors before making our way to the pool to write. Afterward, we went to find lunch and returned to MerCon after. We came back in at the beginning of the Mermaid Beauty Pageant.

During the pageant, we snuck away to stock up on swim supplies at a store connected to the hotel. On our way, we walked by the aquarium and stopped to admire this little guy.

To be honest, we admired that little guy and the rest of his kind all weekend long. I never realized that stingrays are so cute! Even the big, old ones. When they took off from the floor, my heart would race a little, but watching them swim (as it was with all the fish) was so relaxing. And they all have the same cute faces. Hmm… I wonder what would go into putting a 117,000 gallon salt water tank in my house. (And, for the record, the Silverton does well with simulating a natural environment for the fish. Each night, we left when it was nighttime in the aquarium.)

We returned to the convention in time for the end of the pageant. Next up was the main reason I wanted to attend the convention: the author panel.

From left to right we met Tera Lynn Childs, Timothy Schaffert, Matthea Harvey and Carolyn Turgeon.

I loved seeing Carolyn Turgeon onstage taking pictures of the other authors during their readings! Seriously, how awesome is that?!

While I was getting books signed, Heather got some supplies that she needed for the next day (more on that later) and we left the convention center to get ready for the pool party that evening.

I don’t have any pictures of the pool party right now. I only have a DSLR and didn’t want to take that along. We did have Heather’s HD point and shoot for about half of the party, until the battery died. Let this be a lesson to everyone out there… when you attend a pool party with mermaids, be sure to bring a fully charged camera! We were able to get some pictures of Hannah Mermaid’s show, as well as some pictures of the performance of MeduSirena, the fire-eating mermaid. The camera died right as she began the fire-eating portion of her routine so you’ll just have to take my word for it (until I can dig up some videos), it was pretty cool! Or, if you don’t want to take my word for it, check out this article, which has a gallery of photos from the party.

I will say this. Most of the weekend felt surreal. I have loved mermaids ever since I was a little girl and first watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid. They’ve lived in my imagination ever since and I have always dreamt of being a mermaid. I used to pretend to that my “real” merparents (not that my real human parents weren’t fantastic, because they are and I am so thankful that I have the parents I have) would come to collect me and take me out to sea. During recess in elementary school, I would run around by myself beneath the jungle gym and pretend to be a mermaid swimming through the sea with my dolphin friend. Even as I grew up, when I’d swim through a pool I’d imagine I was a mermaid. When I’d stand on the beach overlooking the ocean, I’d imagine walking into the water, growing a tail and swimming away. However, seeing so many people wearing mermaid tails was a sight I never thought I’d see! But that night, at the pool party, with the moon full in the sky, it didn’t seem strange at all. It just seemed like a normal Friday night with mermaids and mermen.

The pool party ended our first full day in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for more on our second day later!