“La Sirene de la Mission” (French for “The Mermaid of the Mission”) is back on duty at Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center, 150 Kingsley Lane, Norfolk. The local icon has been placed in time to greet participants passing through the 9-mile mark for the Norfolk Freedom Half Marathon, scheduled on Sunday, November 13, 2011.
The fiberglass mermaid, placed on a concrete stand, was donated in 2006 by Norfolk lawyer and hospital supporter Peter Decker, Jr. “La Sirene de la Mission” joined the Mermaids on Parade project to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center. She is also featured in the children’s book “The Mermaids and Yellow Jack: A NorFolktale,” written by children’s author Lisa Suhay. Proceeds from sales of the book benefit the Bon Secours DePaul Health Foundation.
During the mermaid’s tenure, she has given her own life twice to protect those passing her on Granby Street. In June 2006, she was struck by an out-of-control truck. She was shredded, but the truck hit her concrete stand, preventing the driver from veering into oncoming traffic. In 2007, the heroic sea creature again stopped a driver from heading into oncoming traffic. “La Sirene de la Mission” was replaced once again, but this time she was moved to a safer location, adjacent to the bus stop and out of the path of drivers.
She is returning to service after a brief hiatus for cosmetic “surgery” to modify her tail, making it more consistent with the Bon Secours logo. The outpatient procedure modified the cross-like anchor tail to a more traditional mermaid tail and was once again performed by a local artist, “Dr.” Georgia Mason, the medical center’s premier mermatologist.