in

Aquarena Springs: The Strange amusement park that Showed the World's Underwater Clown

Aquarena Springs, San Marcos’ amusement park, was famous for its many strange attractions. In the 1950s, an underwater ballerina troupe known as the Aquamaids performed every day to sold-out crowds at the headwaters of the San Marcos River. In 1954, Life magazine featured a two-page photo spread showing one of the Aquamaids getting married in the theater. One detail that Life reported was that the bride had sewed little lead balls into her wedding gown to maintain decency underwater. As part of the Aquarena culture, Ralph the Swimming Pig, whom Molly Ivins considered “the Greg Louganis of Porkerdom,” went on to get his feature-length documentary.

The show also featured ‘Glupro’, the world’ first underwater clown. Glurpo’s exact date of birth is unknown, but he arrived in San Marcos as a comic foil and assistant to the glamorous Aquamaids in the early fifties. The ladies swam through Spring Lake, adamantine water at the head of the San Marcos River, while Glurpo held onto the hose from the compressed air tank that provided them with breath. Bob Phillips, who portrayed Glurpo during the 1960s, describes the character’s role as keeping an eye on the lady. “After she finishes doing her ballet, after a minute and a half, you look for her hand, and when she opens up her thumb, you put the air hose in her hand right there.

#1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#2 Aquamaids enjoy an underwater picnic

Aquamaids enjoy an underwater picnic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#3 The March 8, 1954, issue of Life magazine carried the story of the underwater wedding at Aquarena Springs of Bob Smith and Mary Beth Sanger.

The March 8, 1954, issue of Life magazine carried the story of the underwater wedding at Aquarena Springs of Bob Smith and Mary Beth Sanger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#5 Glurpo performing in the submarine theater

Glurpo performing in the submarine theater

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#6

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#7 “Ralph, the Famous Swimming Pig” executes his signature ‘swine dive’

“Ralph, the Famous Swimming Pig” executes his signature ‘swine dive’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#8 A scene from an underwater ballet performed at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos in 1955.

A scene from an underwater ballet performed at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos in 1955.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#9

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#10 The Bird of Paradise show with parrots that could ride bicycles.

The Bird of Paradise show with parrots that could ride bicycles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#11 Glurpo on the cover of Popular Mechanics – June, 1952

Glurpo on the cover of Popular Mechanics – June, 1952

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#12

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.