by Tiffany Hyman
Do you enjoy golfing? Are you an art or animal fanatic? If so, you may want to consider participating in one or more of the upcoming events at the Aquarium of Niagara, one of the great attractions of the Falls. Guests of all ages are invited to attend such unique aquarium happenings as the "Putting for Penguins" night golf tournament, the "Wyland Whale" print raffle or the "Winds, Waves and Wines" outing.
The Aquarium of Niagara is a not-for-profit museum. The 45-year-old AON is the only one of its kind within the region that features many unique animals and sea creatures. It was established as an educational and recreational institution. Its mission is for guests to gain a greater awareness and understanding of the aquatic world.
"It's a wonderful experience," said Gay Molnar, director of development and public relations.
The sixth annual "Putting for Penguins" will be held on Friday, July 15, starting at 5 p.m. The event is a one-of-a-kind - it's the only night golf outing in the area. And it's an evening filled with activities, including music, beer, food, wonderful prizes and of course, "Glo-golf."
"It's a big party in disguise," joked Molnar. "The golf outing has evolved from small to being one of the greatest around the area."
"(The golf tournament) is quite unique," said Skip Mazenauer, AON board member and publisher at Niagara Frontier Publications.
"It's a very informal event with little pressure," added Rich Torcasio, AON board member and chairperson of the event. "Anyone can play."
Torcasio, an elite golfer, is excited to once again be part of the tournament. He described the golf course setting as executive quality.
Registration for the event begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6. The nine hole "day" of golf starts at 7 in a scramble format. The last four holes of the tournament begins at 9:30 p.m. Golfers will each receive a special glow-in-the-dark ball. The courses will be illuminated only by glo-sticks.
"People should come out to the tournament - it's just a blast," said Torcasio. "The profits go directly towards the aquarium."
Sponsors are greatly appreciated. Levels range from $100 to $1,200. Checks can be made payable to the "Putting for Penguins" golf tournament. The actual golf outing will take place at Newfane Pro-Am, 2501 North Main St., Route 78 in Newfane.
If you enjoy art, you will not want to miss out on the chance to win an original drawing by Wyland. Wyland is a distinctive marine life painter, sculptor, photographer, writer and scuba diver. His non-profit foundation has supported many conservation programs, including the Whaling Wall mural project. The raffle will be held at the Aquarium of Niagara, which is one of the 100 buildings around the world with a Wyland mural on the outside. The lithograph, called "California Coastline," features a humpback whale and its calf, with a rocky California coast in the background
"Featuring (the raffle) is quite an achievement because numbers are in high demand," said Mazenauer.
Mazenauer is one of few who received artwork by Wyland. He and his wife, Judy, won a lithograph.
"I was fortunate enough to obtain one of his pieces," said Mazenauer.
The limited edition lithograph is autographed by Wyland and is valued at more than $2,000. Raffle tickets are $50 each and only 100 will be sold.
"Wyland's artwork is rare," said Molnar. "Tickets are only $50 for the raffle."
"It's a great opportunity for someone who enjoys artwork at just $50," said Mazenauer.
The 12th annual "Winds, Waves and Wines" is a gala benefit for the AON. The event takes place on Sept. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Niagara Falls Conference Center.
" 'Winds, Waves and Wines' is one of the aquarium's signature events," said Molnar.
"It's an excelled sampling of many of the area's finer restaurants and wineries," said Mazenauer.
Vendors from six upscale restaurants and wineries will provide fine dining and drinks to guests. The drawing for Wyland's "California Coastline" will be held during the event. Proceeds from the raffle will provide additional assistance for the care and feeding of the living collection at the AON. Tickets can be purchased by phone or at the AON's gift shop.
Still more news from the AON:
•Educational programs held in May show how the AON continues to be a popular attraction, says Molnar. Featured were out-visit sessions at 20 locations with 941 participants, 74 in-house programs with 1,654 participants, and six Scout sleepovers, with 429 participants.
•"Mist-ical" magic shows are featured daily (except Sundays) during the summer with show times at 11:20 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.
•Summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. until Labor Day.
•"Halloween Happenings" returns on Oct. 29.
•Check out the "Reptile Experience" on Nov. 12.
"The aquarium is quite a place to visit and want-to-be destination for the family," said Mazenauer.
Prices for the AON are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+), $6 for children (ages 3-12) and infants are free. Special admission discounts are offered through the Niagara Falls State Park Discovery Pass.
The Aquarium of Niagara is located at 701 Whirlpool St., in Niagara Falls. For more information on the AON or general information, visit http://www.aquariumofniagara.org/default.htm or call 285-3575.