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2016 King of SPLASH Chris Rue, Mermaid Society SMTX Dounder July Moreno and 2016 Mermaid Queen Shirley Rogers. Daily Record archive photo by Denise Cathey

Mermaid Society announces 2018 Royal Court

The Mermaid Society SMTX is ramping up for another year of festivities, and part of those preparations mean naming the individuals that will serve as this year’s Royal Court.

2018 Mermaid Queen will be Executive Director of the San Marcos River Foundation Dianne Wassenich. King of SPLASH – which stands for Stewardship, Preservation, Local, Sustainability and Heritage – will be local history buff Rodney van Oudekerke. This year’s Mermaid Royal court Honorees are photographer Christopher Paul Cardoza for Arts and Culture, Executive Director or the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment Andrew Sansom for River Guardianship and the Calaboose African American History Museum for heritage. Randolph Goodman will serve as this year’s Downtown Mermaid Promenade’s grand marshal.

The King of SPLASH and the Mermaid Queen are selected based on individuals who imbue the spirit of SMTX, according to Mermaid Society founder July Moreno.

“Each individual or organization selected is doing incredible work right here in our community and contribute to the vibrancy of our beloved city,” Moreno said. “Years from now I hope we can look back at these people as a beautiful representation of San Marcos.”

Each person nominated either represents San Marcos’ creative community, preserves and safeguards local history or serves as guardians of the San Marcos River and its inhabitants. Each honoree is selected by their peers who serve on the Mermaid Society SMTX’s symposiums committees for River Guardianship, Arts & Culture, and Entrepreneurship/Small Business.

“Everything about this festival is supposed to serve as a platform,”Moreno said. “And so for everyone out there that doesn’t know about river stewardship, who doesn’t know about the local arts, for those who aren’t aware or aren’t connected, we want them to know. So everyone that has been nominated as part of the royal court, is meant to bring attention to those things, because they are the people making, creating and doing those things.”

New to this year’s celebrations is the Mer-Folk Royal Court. The Mer-Folk Royal Court accompanies the Mermaid Queen, the King of SPLASH, Parade Grand Marshal and Honorees during the Mermaid Society Art Ball, Downtown Mermaid Promenade and Mermaid Aqua Fair.

Those that wish to nominate someone for one of the six Mer-Folk Royal Court positions, can submit a nomination online. Nominations are restricted to individuals that represent a community group or nonprofit organization.

A total of six nominees will be selected. All submissions must be in by Aug. 1 and the recipients will be announced by Aug. 15 on the Mermaid Society SMTX Facebook page.

Mermaid Queen

Dianne Wassenich moved to San Marcos in 1980, since then she has worked with the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) – first as a volunteer, then as a board member, and now as the executive director –to protect the San Marcos River, its watershed and estuaries. 

Since the San Marcos River Foundation’s beginning in 1985 Wassenich and her husband Tom  Wassenich were members, and she enjoyed volunteering, fundraising, clerical duties, and as a volunteer organizer for the organization before serving as president of the board, and now as executive director,

Her work with the San Marcos River Foundation over the past 30 three years  has contributed to the protection of the river. Over 33 years, SMRF has done just about every kind of work that can do, to protect the river and improve the habitat for the endangered species.  In recent years, they have focused on land conservation to keep the river flowing and clear by preserving recharge zone lands above the San Marcos Springs.

In her 16 years working as executive director for SMRF, she has served on many stakeholder committees to represent the river locally, regionally and statewide. She is a true guardian of the heart of the community: the San Marcos River.

King of SPLASH

Born and raised in Boerne, Texas as a sixth  generation Texan as well as the grandson of an immigrant, Rodney van Oudekerke is a man attuned to history – not only his own, but specifically that of Hays County and San Marcos. 

Oudekerke has resided in San Marcos  for 39 years and all those decades he’s dedicated to knowing the past and present intricacies of the city. 

Oudekerke retired from the San Marcos Police Department as a sergeant with 25 years of service, but he has also served as the past president of the Heritage Association of San Marcos, past chair of the San Marcos Historical Commission and past chair of the Hays County Historical Commission. 

Oudekerke  studied political science and criminal justice at Southwest Texas State University. He started to learn the history of San Marcos and developed a love for that history and the San Marcos River while working his way through school. He has authored a book about the history of the community entitled “Historic San Marcos.” 

Arts & Culture Honoree

If you’ve ever gone to a live music event, an art show, or any social event in San Marcos in the past couple of years, you’ve probably seen him, camera in hand, ducking beneath, beside and behind the people dancing, the musicians playing and the artists working. 

Christopher Paul Cardoza, or CPC, is San Marcos’ very own documentarian. Cardoza works tirelessly to photograph, record and support the arts in San Marcos. His photography has helped him make a name for himself, the artists he captures and will one day serve as a time capsule of the community’s art scene. Many musicians, artists and beloved venues have come and gone, and Cardoza has faithfully captured almost all of it.

River Guardianship Honoree

Dr. Andrew Sansom is one of Texas’ leading conservationists. Sansom has dedicated his life to environmental conservation. He has served as the former executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and executive director of the Texas Nature Conservancy.

Sansom now serves as professor of practice in Geography and as executive director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, where he administers a multi-million dollar research program, manages the headwaters of the San Marcos River, administers the most extensive freshwater environmental education program in Texas, and supervises the training and coordination of more than 1,000 volunteer water monitors in rivers and streams throughout the State.

Heritage Honoree

Set in the Dunbar neighborhood, San Marcos' historically Black neighborhood, the Calaboose African American Museum sits as a monument to the Black community’s work to preserve their history. 

But the Calaboose extends far beyond the museum’s walls. In recent months the Calaboose board, along with members of the community, has been working to restore a beacon of history within the Dunbar Historic District, the Old First Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Drive. The church has stood empty for decades. But now members of the community are partnering to revive this vestige of Black history in San Marcos, along with create an entire cultural district.

The Calaboose Museum is located at 200 Martin Luther King Dr.

Parade Grand Marshal Honoree

Randolph Goodman is the business community liaison for the local Gary Job Corp. He has served the San Marcos community in many capacities over the years; from his 20 years of service in the Navy to serving as a president for the San Marcos Lions Club and of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Central Texas. He has served on the board of directors for the Hays County Food Bank, the San Marcos Education Foundation and  San Marcos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Before his time at Gary Job Corp, he worked as a director of the Southwest School of Electronics, director of Education at Capitol City Trade and Technical School.

Goodman has always worked to benefit those that are  undeserved in his community.

San Marcos Record

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