As a dad, one of my greatest joys is seeing my daughter smile. Bringing the unreal to life and capturing that magic is something that rarely happens. Watching your child stare in wonder and amazement at something she is familiar with, but HAS never seen is very special for every parent. This week I had the privilege to visit the Newport Aquarium, located across the river from downtown Cincinnati. They had a special event featuring live mermaids, and while I’m not keen walking around watching wannabe Ariel’s, upon asking my four year old daughter if she wanted to go see them, her simple response captured her excitement: “Today?!”
Disney has created generations of magic and as a proud dad of a Disney girl, I’ve memorized all the songs to all the movies. We have a Disney princess tea set we break out on occasion to have real teatime, like they do in the movies and I even know that Sleeping Beauty has a name; it’s Aurora. So when I asked my daughter whether or not she wanted to go see real-life mermaids I should have known she would just be overjoyed.
The Newport Aquarium is one of the top 10 aquariums in the country and we are so lucky to live 15 minutes away from it. My wife will often take our daughter during the week. I liken the Newport Aquarium to Ikea, you start through the maze of exhibits, get to experience everything, and at the end there’s a cafeteria (or souvenir shop). They have all different types of aquatic life from turtles, to jellyfish, crocodiles to every kind of fish imaginable. The exhibits inspire the imagination of adults and children alike. For me, they bring to life the many books I’ve read and television shows I’ve watched over the years and for my daughter, the exhibits bring to life the magical unknown of a world unseen.
She often puts her hand on the tanks just to feel as though she is touching the creatures inside. On this particular day however, my daughter had a very important mission: mermaids. I didn’t realize the depth of excitement she had. She saw a sign and said, ‘Look daddy, Ariel is here!! Ariel is HERE!’ She pulled on my arm the entire way through the exhibits and literally could barely contain her enthusiasm. As we rounded the corner to enter into one of the tunnels, we saw her for the first time. My daughter froze in her tracks, looked up at me with a few tears in her eyes and said, “They are real.” For me, it was magical. She cautiously approached the tank and the mermaid inside was amazing. Her eyes were open and she interacted with the little girls (and boys) that were mesmerized by her. My daughter put her hand on the glass and the mermaid put her hand to match. Hannah looked up me and just beamed. The magic of the movies had come into reality and it was truly something special.
Parents live for their kids. We tell them magical stories about Santa, the Easter Bunny and we see the magic in our children’s eyes is truly special when they meet them. With music from Ariel playing in the background, the mermaid swam around and captivated us.
I have to say, out of all the special events I’ve attended over the years, this event put on by the Newport Aquarium was one of the most special, interactive and impactful. The Mermaids event is already over, but the aquarium is a wonderful place to visit. They have special events many times throughout the year, and another coming up around Christmas. I would encourage you to buy an aquarium season pass if you haven’t already or if you are in from out-of-town and visiting the Cincinnati region, this is one place you must see.
Disclosure: Newport Aquarium invited us to visit the Mermaids event and provided tickets to do so, all of the opinions expressed are 100% mine