Photo credit: Jean E Flynn

Strawberry Street, Cape Charles

Reprinted article 
Cape Charles Wave
July 26, 2013

The world’s fascination with beautiful fish-tailed women has not escaped Cape Charles, where the Town’s very own mermaid happily resides on the revitalized storefront area of Strawberry Street with a fresh coat of paint.
Clelia Sheppard of Arts Enter commissioned local student Meadow Noonan to decorate the mermaid with a design inspired by “growing the arts.”

With the help of friends Kristin Lewis and Julia Bridgforth, the mermaid was painted with a black background blooming with colorful flowers and beautiful butterflies.
Originally the mermaid was part of a fleet of 130 that were commissioned by Norfolk attorney Peter Decker well over a decade ago. The mermaids have become a symbol for Norfolk, where various organizations purchased them in the “Mermaids on Parade” auctions.
Many artists were asked to decorate the mermaids, including Clelia Sheppard.

According to the City of Norfolk website, the mermaids were adopted “first as a celebration of how far [Norfolk], as a city, [has] come in the past four decades and then, as a way to celebrate and support our very talented and deserving regional arts community.”

Since Arts Enter is the focus of the arts community in Cape Charles, the mermaid’s placement in front of the building is perfect.
Sheppard was chosen to design four of the Norfolk mermaids. The one we see in Cape Charles originally graced a fountain in front of the Bank of America in Norfolk. Blue Heron Reality was fortunate enough to win her in an auction a few years back, and soon after Sheppard brought her to Arts Enter to celebrate the arts, as the original design intended.

Painting the mermaid was the first public art for local girls Meadow, Kristin, and Julia. “We tried to best capture the idea of ‘growing the arts’ that Clelia wanted,” explained Meadow. After the death of Clelia’s close friend and fellow Arts Enter founder Don Clark, Sheppard felt “too emotional” to do anything with the mermaid that she and Clark had restored together.
But after seeing the girls’ work, Sheppard pronounced that they had given the mermaid “new life.”