As thanks for the support of its hometown, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is offering all city residents free aquarium admission on Saturday plus discounts on IMAX® movies, memberships, and food and gift shop purchases. Norwalk residents can enjoy their favorite aquarium animals and four special exhibits, all at no charge. (Proof of residency is required.)
Highlights of a general admission visit include:
"¢ the aquarium itself, featuring more than 1,000 marine animals -- including seven-foot sand tiger sharks, harbor seals, river otters, green sea turtles and pulsing jellyfish -- nearly all of which are native to Long Island Sound and its watershed. Seal feedings are at 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 & 3:45 p.m. daily. Two touch tanks bring animals to your fingertips.
"¢ the ninth annual "Festival of Lighthouses" display, which illuminates aquarium galleries with 23 working lighthouses creatively handcrafted by folks from New Rochelle to New Fairfield to New Haven. Visitors choose the winners. Be sure to vote for your favorite.
"¢ the "African Penguins" exhibit, featuring a small colony of the comical water birds. "Salute Norwalk Day" is a great opportunity to see the penguins one more time before they "migrate" away from the Aquarium after Jan. 2. And all visitors on Dec. 4 will be entered into drawings at noon & 3 p.m. to win an "All Access -- Penguins" backstage "meet-and-greet" to visit the penguins and learn about their care.
"¢ the "Meerkats" special exhibit, in which six very active, very cute meerkats dig, romp and explore in a re-created African desert landscape.
"¢ and the special exhibit, "African Underwater Safari," features some of the unusual aquatic animals native to the African continent, including cichlids, electric catfish and lungfish. It also includes big snakes, turtles and geckos.
On "Salute Norwalk Day," Norwalk residents also can receive $1 discounts on the daytime showings of the IMAX movies "Island of the Sharks" at 11 a.m. and 1 & 3 p.m., and "Everest" at noon and at 2 p.m.
The deals reach into the Gift Shop and Cascade Café, where Norwalk residents will receive 10 percent discounts.
Plus, Norwalk residents can make membership to the aquarium an even sweeter deal by enrolling on "Salute Norwalk Day," when a $110 Family membership will extend for 15 months, instead of the normal 12. That's a bonus value of about $25. (It's valid only on new aquarium memberships.)
Adding to the "Salute Norwalk Day" festivities, the Aquarium again has teamed up with the Physical Education Department of the Norwalk Public Schools to sponsor the annual Norwalk River Fun Run on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Veteran's Park. Students will be walking and running 1.2 miles around the park and over the drawbridge to the aquarium. All young runners will receive a coupon for a free child's admission to a daytime IMAX movie (good when accompanied by a paying adult).
Learn more about the exhibits, IMAX films and special programs offered at The Maritime Aquarium by calling (203) 852-0700 or by going online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.