A Special Mardi Gras - Presented by the Aquarium

Aquarium of the Pacific: Mardi Gras night aboard the Queen Mary- the Zydcats

On March 8, 2011 (Fat Tuesday), colorful hats, masks, magicians and fortune tellers, and a great band, The Zydecats, entertained the members of the Aquarium of the Pacific as they celebrated Mardi Gras in style.  Clapping and dancing to the singing of Lisa Haley, the 300 attending members enjoyed the elegant experience of the Queen Mary’s main ballroom while Bill Perron in the guise of a gypsy fortune teller read palms.  Bruce Perovich of the Magic Castle strolled the tables as Willy did caricature sketches for the guests.  

Aquarium of the Pacific: Mardi Gras night aboard the Queen Mary

Typical New Orleans fare was served as Creole salad, rice and beans, Cajun fried chicken, blackened sustainable rockfish in mustard sauce and grilled Andouille sausage topped with yummy bread pudding and bourbon sauce. 

The event, besides honoring the holiday, was a presentation of the Aquarium to its members and is just one of the many offerings that the center offers to those who grace their steps. 

Originally called the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, the 5 acre Aquarium of the Pacific is located on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach near the famous Queen Mary.  The building, itself, was inspired by the breaking waves of the Pacific and mirrors the fluid and dynamic temper of the ocean. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: The Blue Cavern (photo by Aquarium of the Pacific)

Yearly 1.5 million visitors see fish from all over the world as well as sea lion, sea otters and sharks swimming in their own private quarters.  The 11,000 animals represent over 500 different species. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: Sand Tiger Shark (Photo by Aquarium of the Pacific)

The Shark Lagoon is the national first full scale touch exhibit.  Visitors come face to face with the sand tiger, the nurse, blacktip and whitetip reef and even stroke the gentle zebra, epaulette or bamboo sharks.  Fun displays often dispel the stereotypical myths of these misunderstood creatures. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: Mardi Gras night aboard the Queen Mary - Bill Perron

Other popular shows include the Lorikeet Forest where guests can feed nectar to colorful birds while experiencing the seascapes of the Pacific. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: child in the Forest (Photo by Aquarium of the Pacific)

Daily presentations of films and programs explore the life on the Pacific coast and create behind the scenes journeys for those participating. (Adventurers must be at least seven years old.)  Some take adventure of the combination ticket to go on a whale watch, as well. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: Mardi Gras night aboard the Queen Mary - card reader

Educational experiences abound for guests from two to adult. Besides courses and films, they offer summer day camp and family sleepovers.  Many events, such as sneak peak and behind the scenes nights, however, are reserved for the members only. 

Future programs include Easter Brunch, International Children’s Day, the new Ocean Science Center and Arctic and Antarctic Galleries opening, a Pacific Islander Festival, an Urban Ocean Festival and the Aquarium After Dark.  Most l of these are free to members, except the Easter Brunch, Mardi Gras Night, and the Aquarium After Dark. 

Aquarium of the Pacific: child feeding seal (photo by Aquarium of the Pacific)

A 501c3, the Aquarium strives to keep the membership prices within reach of the average family as well as encouraging larger donations.  Individual membership starts at $55 (senior at $45), but the best price is the family /grandparent package at $115, which includes two adults and all the children 3-17 living in the same household.  Senior couples can join at just $80 for the pair living in the same household.  Perks, as guest passes and parking vouchers, get added on as one goes to the Aquarist and up. 

For more information go to www.aquariumofpacific.org or call 562 590 3100.  More information about the entertainers can be had at 562 695 9089 (www.magicandvariety.com)

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