Two events this week will pay homage to Aquarena Springs, one of North America’s oldest continually inhabited places and the headwaters of the San Marcos River.
Officials will break ground on the Spring Lake restoration project, which will return the area to its state before the Aquarena Springs amusement park was built there. The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday in the meadow at Aquarena Center.
Texas State University bought the property in 1994 and has been turning it into an educational and research facility. The restoration project includes demolishing buildings and pavement left over from the park, planting native grasses and other vegetation and removing the underwater theater where generations of vacationing families watched Ralph the Swimming Pig and the mermaids perform.
Eight federally endangered species live in Spring Lake and the upper stretch of the river, including the locally iconic San Marcos Salamander. Archeologists have uncovered artifacts that indicate people lived around the springs more than 12,000 years ago during the Clovis culture.
The bygone amusement park is the subject of a documentary that will premiere 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Texas Music Theater, 120 E San Antonio in downtown San Marcos.
Founded in 1951, Aquarena Springs is credited with helping to define modern amusement parks and summer family vacation destinations. It attracted about 250,000 people a year at its peak.
The documentary, “Aquarena Springs and Ralph The Swimming Pig,” includes footage from the park’s glory days and more recent interviews with people who worked and visited there. The premiere is co-sponsored by the Heritage Association of San Marcos.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. They can be bought at the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce, 202 N. C.M. Allen Parkway, or at the door before the event.Email | Print