LITHIA, Fla. (AP) — A woman has been banned from swimming in her community’s pool because she wants to wear a blue, silicone mermaid tail.
Jenna Conti, who lives in a subdivision east of downtown Tampa, had been in the community pool with her custom-made tail once before with the staff’s okay.
Conti, who calls herself Eden Sirene while in the water, has a custom-made silicon mermaid tail. While her dream is to swim at the Florida Aquarium, she said she wanted to swim with the kids at the FishHawk Ranch community pool.
But last week, the community leaders told her it violated a policy against swim fins. On Monday night, the FishHawk Community Development board voted to keep her out of the pool because of the swim fin policy. The story has gained worldwide interest since a resident of the community posted photos of Conti in the pool on Facebook.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the board suggested options like holding special events with her. Or she could apply to be a vendor, the board said, with a business license and insurance.
“Some of the HOA’s most successful events have been those with children,” said board chairman Ruth Brown, noting past events for Christmas and Easter. “This would really be a special treat for the community.”
A few residents spoke in support of Conti. Bill Sperling, an insurance agent with four children who has lived there for eight years, said he hoped Conti and the board could find middle ground.
“I feel that FishHawk Ranch is a unique community. That’s why I live here,” Sperling said after the meeting. “The mermaid is also unique. I feel there is a place for her here.”
The full-time hair stylist hasn’t been a mermaid for very long. She and her 10-year-old son saw the mermaids at the Tampa Bay Renaissance Fair earlier this year and she was “enthralled.”
About seven years ago, Conti had a brain tumor. She’d lost the use of her legs and had to relearn how to walk. So when she saw the mermaids, she told herself, “It’s time to start doing the things you want to do.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Conti said she would think about her options, like becoming a vendor or finding another place to swim. She’ll charge a fee for private parties, she said, but she doesn’t want to charge families to swim with her in public pools.
“To just swim with the kids, it’s supposed to be for everybody,” she said.
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