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Maritime Aquarium Decks The Halls For Variety Of Holiday Events

Santa Claus dives among the sand tiger sharks in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit.
Santa Claus dives among the sand tiger sharks in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit. Photo Credit: Maritime Aquarium

NORWALK, Conn. – From Santa Claus to special IMAX screenings and the annual Lighthouse Exhibit, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk will be filled with holiday cheer throughout December.

Most Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in December, visitors can catch a glimpse of Santa Claus swimming with the sharks, helping the aquarium’s dive team in a demonstration that sharks aren’t the blood-thirsty killers of myth. Santa is expected to participate in each dive beginning Nov. 28 and 29, and then in December on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Dive times are 12:15 and 2:15 p.m.

Want to watch a movie? The IMAX Theater will be showing "The Polar Express" on the giant screen through Jan. 3. Visit the Maritime Aquarium website fore show times here .

And in a special one-night only screening of “ELF” will be on Friday, Dec. 4 from 7 to 10 p.m., high schoolers are invited to an evening built especially for them. The event at 7 p.m. in the movie- theater lobby with a variety of fun activities, including contests and a special photo opp. Tickets for “Elf” at The Maritime Aquarium are $12 and limited to high school age students.

On Saturday, Dec. 19, and Sunday Dec. 20, children and their families are invited to a special three-hour Polar Express Pajama Party from 9 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for kids 3 to 12 ($15 and $13 for Aquarium members). Each show is limited to 310 seats, so advance purchase is strongly recommended.

The 14th Annual Festival of Lighthouses Contest has started and will continue through Jan. 18. All visitors are able to enjoy the display of imaginative handcrafted lighthouses and then vote favorites. The votes will determine the winners of this fun holiday display, which has 22 large model lighthouses competing for the top prize of $1,500.

“The quality of the lighthouses goes up each year, as the contestants are forced to up their game each year,” said Thomas Frankie, the Aquarium’s exhibits director. “This in turn makes the contest better, but it also becomes harder and harder to vote for one favorite.”

Help those in need in the local community Dec. 5 and 6 during a special weekend of discounted admission to The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. During the Aquarium’s “Full Tummies, Happy Tummies Weekend,” anyone bringing a nonperishable food item will receive discounted Aquarium admission. Adults receive $5 off admission of $19.95. Children save $3 off the regular price of $12.95. Visitors can bring more than one food item per person, but the discount will only count once.

The discounts are part of the Aquarium’s Closer to Our Community initiative, which engages the aquarium in ways that benefit the local community. All of the food donated  will go to Person-to-Person of Norwalk , a community-supported agency that provides emergency assistance for basic needs, and support for individuals and families as they move toward stability.

The Maritime Aquarium will be hosting Santa Claus Neptune-themed throne between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 6, 12 and 13, accepting wish lists as they get the chance to meet with the man in red. During those days, Santa will be taking breaks to join the Dive Team in the Shark Tank.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 13, the aquarium will be hosting the students Talent Education Suzuki School in Norwalk and The Westport Community Band. The performances are free with Aquarium admission. The concerts will begin at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 and at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13.

Parents can give their children a break from shopping with the new "Drop and Shop" program the Aquarium is holding for children ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon. Capacity is limited, the Aquarium says that advance reservations are required. Call 203-852-0700, ext. 2206.

For more information about Maritime Aquarium offerings in December, or to reserve tickets call 203-852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org .

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