Posted on May 24, 2012 at 9:46 AM
Friday, May 25 at 8:51 AM
SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Just outside the Aquarena Center in San Marcos, Valerie Fix and her kids waited patiently as a huge crane prepared to lift the historic Aquarena Springs submarine theater out of the water.
"It's been moving really slowly, and I think something might have broken, because it hasn't been moving for a while," said Valerie’s son Alex.
It was one of the last remaining reminders of the Aquarena Springs theme park. For decades, the theater featured mermaids as well as Ralph the Swimming Pig. The theme park closed in 1996.
Texas State University took over the land and has been working to restore the area's natural status. The old theater had become an eyesore. "It's really covered with seaweed,” said Chloe, Valerie’s daughter.
Two previous attempts to lift the 479-ton theater out of the water failed, so the workers brought in a stronger crane. The operation began around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, with the crane finally lifting the entire theater out of the water a little after 11:30 a.m.
To the naked eye, it was hard to tell the crane was actually lifting the theater. "It started out boring but now it's (more fun), because it's moving finally," said Amelia Cunningham, a friend of the Fix family.
Ron Coley is the Aquarena Center director. He has mixed feelings about seeing the historic theater finally leave the water. "Quite honestly, this is like attending the funeral of a dear old friend that has been sick for a very long time,” he said.
As a boy, Douglas Tallant worked at the old theme park. His job was to clean up the theater between shows.
"It's sad to see it go. It's had a lot of memories here, but you know, life goes on,” said Tallant.
The submarine theater was a part of Aquarena Springs for more than 25 years, and it took a little more than two hours for this underwater attraction to surface for the last time.