Celebrate, celebrate! The Aquarium of Niagara plans to do just that on its birthday weekend, June 12 and 13.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the opening of the Whirlpool Street attraction. Originally called The Aquarium of Niagara Falls, the living museum opened June 12, 1965, to much excitement and celebration with local dignitaries and residents cutting the traditional ribbon at the entrance.
Local leaders and invited guests will proclaim June 12 "Aquarium Day" in the city and county on the front steps of the Aquarium that morning. During the two-day weekend, visitors will receive a special "present": reduced admission for adults and children ($4.50). Memberships will be sold for the discounted price of $19.65.
After each sea lion show, visitors will be asked to sing "Happy Birthday" to the Aquarium. The Aquarium's 45th birthday party is sponsored by Turner Construction Co., with additional support from Hershey's Creamery and Niagara Frontier Publications.
"The Aquarium, hundreds of miles from the closest ocean, was once referred to as an ‘inland oceanarium,' the first of its kind to maintain marine life exclusively with artificial saltwater," said Nancy A. Chapin, executive director.
During the June 13 celebration, Beaker, the Aquarium's penguin mascot, and the Hershey moose mascot will be on hand to greet visitors. The moose will hand out ice cream samples from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or as long as they last. There will be craft sessions to make something to take home and face painting both days.
The Aquarium is the city's oldest and only year-round attraction, other than the falls themselves.
"Always a privately owned facility, it has been a not-for-profit since the mid-'70s when more emphasis was put on education and conservation," Chapin added.
In addition to its saltwater displays, there are also Great Lakes fresh water exhibits, featuring fish found in area waterways. Home to sea lions, penguins and harbor seals, the Aquarium has added several new exhibits over the past few years, including octopus, poison dart frogs and seahorses. The Aquarium also is the site of the 81st Whaling Wall, painted by marine life artist Wyland. There are 100 such walls around the world.