Scuba Santa makes a splash at Newport Aquarium



Newport Aquarium takes on a holiday feel in December, with fish all aglow, both real ones and fake ones. Penguins love the season, of course, and some of the gators are as white as snow.

Maybe that's why a certain someone comes here for a pre-holiday getaway.

Scuba Santa chooses to enjoy his hobby here, because he can still work as well. Children line up outside a 385,000-gallon tank to share their Christmas wishes, talking to Santa through a microphone. Santa's bubbly personality shines through.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Tan says Scuba Santa draws a lot of people tothe aquarium during a time many people would consider "the off season."

" The winter is a perfect time to visit," she said. "It's a great escape from outside because it's always a nice tropical 72 degrees inside here."

Parents know they could take their children to see Santa at a mall or big box store, but many wait for these visits to get unique pictures and to take in the rest of the water wonderland.

Tabitha Gipson, a mother from Florence said she brings her kids every December.

"There's more to do here," she said. We can go straight from here (the Santa tank) if they have a meltdown, keep on walking and check out the rest of the exhibits. It's great."

Some of the kids worry about Scuba Santa's safety.

"A little bit," one boy said "I don't want him to get eaten by a shark."

But Santa assures visitors sharks want to stay on the nice list too. Still, Santa has helpers who watch his back, just in case there's a naughty one in the bunch.

Scuba Santa has been can attraction here for 16 seasons. If you miss him, you can leave a letter in a special mailbox.

Santa tells visitors there's plenty of time to make the nice list. Deep down, he's just as nice as he appears on the surface. Scuba Santa will appear daily at Newport Aquarium through the end of the year, with the exception of Christmas Day, of course.
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