The Mermaid Michelina, Michelle Ruffo, presses against the glass display window at the Tucson Thrift Shop, transformed into an "aquarium", for the Return of the Mermaids, Saturday, August 12, 2016, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

We might be far from the beach, but we aren't far from the mermaids. Come Saturday, Aug. 12, Fourth Avenue will be flooded with mermaids and sea creatures for the 4th annual Return of the Mermaids. The daylong festival includes shows, games, a costume contest, pageant and parade.

'When we think of ourselves as mermaids, it has more to do with a wild spirit,' Lizzie Mead, the event's co-organizer, says. 'Forme and many others, mermaids represent freedom.'

Mead, who also owns Silver Sea Jewelry, says the idea is to celebrate mermaids and Tucson's monsoon season.

'The event is rain or shine,' she says. 'If it rains, you're a mermaid - you just get wet.'

Although you don't have to dress up, it is encouraged.

'It's more fun if you're dressed up, even if you're not a kid,' Mead says. 'Just cut back and embrace the strangeness of it.'

Tucson's mermaid event is inspired by the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in New York, which has been around for 35 years.

The event is jam-packed with festivities.

The day begins at noon with a mermaid art show at Pop Cycle, followed by a 1 p.m. show at Tucson Improv Movement. Tickets for the improv show are available online.

At 4 p.m., Tucson Thrift Shop will house Mermaid M ichelina. From 5 to 8 p.m., folks will have the chance to meet Mermaid Odette at Haggerty Plaza. Twelveyear- old Mermaid Kailee will also be present.

The Surf Broads, an all-female band, will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., and a costume contest will begin at 6:30 p.m. When 7 p.m. hits, Lykiska Dance will begin their performance, followed by Flam Chen and the Tucson Circus Arts at 7:45 p.m.

The parade will start at 8 p.m. in Haggerty Plaza. Everyone in the parade should be costumed or holding the hand of a child who is costumed.

The event will also have activities at the 'Beach' in downtown Tucson, near Hotel Congress. From 3 to 10 p.m., the Beach will showcase 25 art vendors, and there will be music, food trucks, and even more shows, such as fire-spinning and a body-positive mermaid pageant at 9 p.m.

From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., after the kids go to sleep, Surly Wench Pub is throwing a 21+ mermaid dance party.

- Gloria Knott