“Ralph” with an aquamaid on a postcard from the resort.
Texas State and its River System Institute will soon host an historic three-day reunion and celebration for former employees of Aquarena Springs Resort.
The event will start off with a social mixer on Nov. 6 at the City of San Marcos Conference Center. Former resort employees from all decades, 1946-1996, will be in attendance.
“We can’t wait to meet these people,” said Andrew Sansom, executive director of River Systems Institute. “I think it’s going to be one of the coolest things I’ve been involved in since I’ve been at Texas State.”
Former employees will also be treated to glass-bottom boat tours, a memorabilia exhibit, an open house at the Texas Rivers Center, a golf tournament, a barbeque and live music. A Sunday brunch will be held at Saltgrass Steakhouse, which many former resort employees will remember as the location of Pepper’s at the Falls.
Sanson said that, in many ways, the opportunity to meet former employees will also be an opportunity to reconnect with some alumni who were once employed at the resort and have since moved away.
“So many students were employed there,” Sansom said. “It was probably even a bigger part of student life in years past than it is now. We’re excited for the opportunity to reestablish that relationship with alumni.”
For 50 years, Aquarena Springs was one of the most popular tourist destination in Texas. At one time, the park featured an Alpine Swiss Sky Ride, mermaid performers called the “Aquamaids,” clowns named Glurpo, Bubblio and Scrubblio, and, of course, Ralph, the swimming pig. Hundreds of pigs through the years were trained to be “Ralph”.
The resort employed numerous underwater performers, clowns, glass-bottom boat tour guides, “aquamaids,” gift shop personnel and, of course, pig trainers.
Several other activities and announcement are planned to coincide with the reunion. A book of historic photographs of the park, from the early 1920’s through the early 1990’s, has been released with its proceeds to go toward the preservation of the glass-bottom boats.
The University Archives, along with Texas State’s history department, will establish efforts to collect stories, oral histories and memorabilia about the resort to preserve for future generations. In particular, they are seeking an “aquamaid” costume, items and souvenirs sold in the gift shop, letters, papers, postcards and photographs that are related to the famous resort.
To register online for this event, go to www.aquarena.txstate.edu/Home/reunion.html, or call (512) 245-7544 to request a registration package.