End of an Era at Wreck Bar

marina wreck bar.jpg
Marina the Mermaid

It wasn't a particularly ceremonious end. It seems likely one of Fort Lauderdale's best, most kitschy locales is now dead in the water. The truth is, nobody was too sure about the fate of the Wreck Bar -- that underwater, mermaid-showing throwback to a simpler Florida of yesteryear -- at what might have been the final happy hour on Friday.

The Yankee Clipper is closing for renovations, and there have been no promises on the future of the fantastic sunken-ship bar. Sitting there, you couldn't help but think that the dank wooden planks on the ceiling and gold coin-laden tables seem destined -- like so much of Old Florida -- for sacrifice in the name of mirror-covered, ultra-hip nightclubs or sky-high, corporate-owned cement edifices that shoot up from the beach like sharp, unchecked teeth in South Florida's collective mouth.


The Wreck Bar was featured in perhaps the most memorable scene in Where the Boys Are  and again years later in Analyze This, with Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal. The dark old watering hole has always satiated my urge to down not-so-cheap, not-so-stiff drinks with not-so-glamorous yacht owners while riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. Also, it's a great place to take out-of-towners you know will be dazzled by drinking beneath the magical blue glow from the portholes behind the bar.

Marina, resident mermaid at Wreck Bar for the past three years, will still be eating fire at Off the Hookah and she'll still performing as a mermaid at Bahia Cabana for Hukilau. But it's likely this was her last time to peer out at these stunned drinkers, her eyes shot with red and her hair fluttering in the water.

The final happy hour (final, barring an intervention of good sense at the Sheraton Corp.) was not heavily attended. Actually, there may have been more children there than adults. I expected there to be tears, old drunks clinging to greasy old ropes wrapped around the old boat wood, and loyal patrons bidding on relics. (Who wouldn't want a table with sand and fake gold sealed inside?) But it was quiet and slow, and Marina's last mermaid show there was over by 7 p.m.

A toast: To a passed era -- a symbol of kookier, sweeter times gone by.

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