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Mermaids return to famous Great Falls bar

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A mermaid swims by the bar at the Sip N' Dip Lounge in Great Falls. PHOTO BY LARRY BECKNER/AP FILE

“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 5/7/20

Before the pandemic and a series of accompanying directives from the office of Gov. Steve Bullock—designed, of course, to keep Montanans safe and curb the spread of COVID-19—patrons of the Sip ‘n Dip Lounge built into the 3-Star O’Haire Motor Inn were treated to mermaids five nights a week. Yes, mermaids, who engaged in playful seascape maneuvers in a pool behind the bar, setting the tiki bar’s ambiance and delighting clientele. Then COVID-19 struck, dashing any promise of fantastical musings over a pint or a double. Rejoice! They are returning dutifully to their post following easements of the directives, namely those that barred nonessential workers from punching timecards. According to the Helena Independent Record, lounge and hotel owner Sandra Thares contacted the governor’s office in hopes of checking the green-light status of her bar’s beloved mermaids. The gesture took some sand, but it was rewarded when Bullock said they could resume—this came after the “Cascade County health department said no, believing pools couldn’t reopen until the third phase of the gradual reopening of the state’s economy.” The three parties struck an accord, so rather than two mermaids in the pool at any given time, as was previously custom, there can only be one. “We were not trying to step on anyone’s toes, we were just trying to put people back to work,” Thares told the Associated Press May 7, the same day the bar’s first mermaid punched her card and resumed work after an eight-week hiatus.

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