Like the rest of us, mermaids depended on wheeled vehicles to get around. They rode in pickup trucks, U-Haul trucks, flat-bed trucks, floats, and an occasional golf cart. But mostly they traveled in an enclosed, plain white City of Norfolk vehicle fondly called the "bread truck" by the facility maintenance team of Ron Parker and Eugene Waltson, who spent hundreds of hours transporting the the sculptures to and from artists, to and from temporary and permanent display sites, and when needed, to and from the artists who would repair the damaged sculptures.
With supervisor Ron Gallihugh plotting the route and Chrissy Herbert coordinating, Parker and Waltson provided the delicate touch to lift, transport and finally to affix mermaids to their stands.
Parker and Waltson worked in all kinds of weather. Even in sunny weather, they'd often get wet because sponsors loved to put their mermaids in fountains. So, the team took off their shoes, rolled up their pants, and carried the sculpture into the water. Water placements always generated a lot of interest from camera-toting tourists and residents who took photos of Parker and Waltson, and then asked the pair to take photos of them.
" Kids love the mermaids, they are just fascinated by them," says Parker, whose two grandsons - ages 8 and 5 - think he's "some kind of hero," ever since they spotted him delivering mermaid one day.
Parker and Waltson, who ordinarily repair playground equipment and buildings, have traveled to artist studios throughout Southeastern Virginia.
Most of the artists are reluctant to part with their decorated maid — shooting video as the mermaid is carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and loaded into the truck. Some artists then follow the truck to the site. One lady followed all the way from the North Carolina line to view the placement.