Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland Celebrates 16 Years at Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky. — Just as it’s getting cold and icy outside, experience a taste of the tropics inside Newport Aquarium, as Scuba Santa returns for his 16th year. Newport Aquarium invites the public to experience the Cincinnati holiday tradition under the sea Nov. 23 – Dec. 31 at Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland.NPAQ_ScubaSanta_HR_2015_Steve_Ziegelmeyer-8386-REVISED

Imagine, walking up to the 385,000 gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank, watching sharks swimming all around, and being greeted by Scuba Santa who knows your child’s name. Scuba Santa’s friendly elves also welcome guests to Shark Ray Bay Theater throughout the holiday season. Whether it’s singing along to the “12 Days of Christmas,” dancing playfully in the theater amid colorful holiday lights, or popping bubbles that fall from the ceiling, families are sure to make lasting memories.

“Every year Newport Aquarium transforms into a truly wondrous setting where families can discover the wonder of an undersea holiday celebration,” said Eric Rose, executive director of Newport Aquarium. “It’s the only underwater holiday tradition in Greater Cincinnati, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate the holidays in the tropics? You can at Newport Aquarium!”

The Water Wonderland journey will also take guests through a number of illuminated and holiday-clad galleries, culminating in a truly wondrous experience where families connect and interact with the magic of an undersea holiday celebration:

  • Shark Ray Bay Theater – Guests will be surrounded by lights, bubbles and holiday music as they join Scuba Santa’s elves in song and discover how some of Newport Aquarium’s most iconic animals celebrate holidays under the sea. Children will have the unique opportunity to meet Scuba Santa® one-on-one, as he dives inside the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank, and tell him their holiday wishes.
  • Seahorses: Unbridled Fun – Hundreds of twinkling sea-creature lights will hang from the ceiling of the Seahorses: Unbridled Fun exhibit over some of nature’s most amazing creatures, including pipefish and several different species of seahorses.
  • Stingray Hideaway – Visit the tropical paradise getaway where Scuba Santa goes to relax after the busy holiday season. His elves are already there decorating with festive tropical decor ready to welcome guests to Stingray Hideaway. Plus, guests can interact with and touch two dozen stingrays in the 17,000-gallon stingray touchpool, while enjoying the tropical holiday oasis.
  • Gator Alley – Honky-tonk holiday lighting, music and decorations welcome guests at Gator Alley, the home of Snowball and Snowflake, two of less than 100 rare white alligators in the world.
  • Kroger Penguin Palooza – Children can write their holiday wish on a magic bubble and mail it at Scuba Santa’s Post Office inside Kroger Penguin Palooza, where five species of cold-weather penguins – a total of nearly 50 birds spread their own brand of holiday cheer.

* Scuba Santa® will not be diving on Christmas Day – he will be resting after a busy night traveling to homes all around the world.

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Buy 3, Get 1 FREE Annual Pass Sale: In time for the holidays, guests who purchase three Newport Aquarium Annual Passes will receive a fourth Annual Pass FREE. The Annual Pass Holiday Special ends on Dec. 31. Annual Passes are valid for one year from the date of purchase, so guests can use them now to experience Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland. Passes are also valid into next year, to enjoy all the new surprises coming for Newport Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

 

Takeover Tuesday: Scuba Santa Edition

Ho, ho, ho, the holidays are finally here! I’m so excited to be back at Newport Aquarium for the 15th year in a row. There’s no better place to spread Christmas cheer than with my favorite aquatic animals. I’m excited to take you behind the scenes with the dive team for this special #TakeoverTuesday.

Safety Check

Dive Safety Officer, LC, helps me with everything before I get into the water. She makes sure my hat is secured tightly, that my full face mask is comfortable, and that my hair and beard are not tangled into my equipment… my beard is so long that it often gets caught in my face mask!

There is a lot of work that goes into being Scuba Santa. My milk & cookie filled stomach tends to make me float, so when I am diving at Newport Aquarium, I have to have about 100 extra pounds of weights to hold me down! These weights go in my belt as well as on other equipment I take in the water with me, like my compressed tank of air which can last up to two hours!

Safety check with LC

LC was definitely given the gift of patience, my elves and I tend to ask a lot of questions.

This is part of my dive team: my fellow safety elf and Dive Safety officer, LC. LC makes sure I have the fins and wetsuit that I need in the correct size – eating as many cookies as I do, XL is always my go-to size for my wetsuit.

I want to make sure I do everything I can to protect the animals that live in it, as well as myself at all times. Remember, you can help protect the ocean and its animals too, by using less plastic and recycling! #Conservation is important.

Magic Bubble wishes

Elves delivered Magic Bubble Wishes. I love hearing what each good little boy and girl wants me to bring them Christmas morning!

After I have my scuba gear on, I like to read Magic Bubble Wishes that guests left at my mailbox in Penguin Palooza. Some people wish for penguins, some wish for alligators, and some just wish for everyone to love one another. I get to help people with their wishes while fulfilling one of my own by swimming with such amazing creatures here at Newport Aquarium!

It gets pretty warm really quickly with a mask on and all of the extra weight, so after getting dive-ready I get into the acclimation tank where I can cool off and get used to the water temperature before diving.

Acclimation

When we are in the water I take down my special book that tells me who’s on the naughty and nice list so I can let the animals know, as well as all of you!

You may wonder though, why my elves carry large candy canes! This is to ensure that we keep ourselves at a distance from the animals who may not see us if they are sleeping. If the sharks are sleeping, they won’t sense that we are in the water and they could accidentally bump into us. The candy canes allow for the elves to let them know that we are sharing the same space, and it gives us a bigger personal bubble while under water. As always, safety is key!

Underwater

My safety elves are so helpful; they make sure that sleeping sharks don’t bump into me while I’m talking to aquarium guests.

Scuba Santa meet and greet

The absolute best part of my job is getting to hear all the wishes you hold so dear. Make sure you stop by the Shark Ray Bay Theater to tell me what you’d like for Christmas!

Although I am from the North Pole, staying in water for long periods of time can make you cold, and even I have to stay warm! So every now and then I will swim to the top of the water and get out for about five minutes to warm up in a special diver hot tub behind the scenes. While I’m in the hot tub I catch up with members of the Dive Team, eat cookies, and drink hot cocoa!

Cocoa by the hot tub

Diving can get cold, so I take a few hot cocoa breaks throughout the day. I like to spend some time in the diver hot tub warming up, and catching up with members of the Dive Team.

I have to hurry though because I don’t have long before I get back into the water to fulfill more wishes! Being Scuba Santa makes me so happy and all of you make it possible by coming to visit me! I’ll be at Newport Aquarium until December 31st — but remember, I take Christmas Day off.  Thank you for joining me for this Takeover Tuesday Ho Ho Ho!