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St. Petersburg's Pier Aquarium celebrates 20th birthday

Bryce LaMothe, 9, left, and his brother Ethan, 7, of St. Petersburg look at a blue regal tang at the Pier Aquarium recently.


Bryce LaMothe, 9, left, and his brother Ethan, 7, of St. Petersburg look at a blue regal tang at the Pier Aquarium recently.

Sea urchins, fish and other aquatic critters at the Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg might not be able to put on birthday hats and munch on cake, but you sure can.

On Aug. 29, the aquarium will celebrate 20 years of fun and discovery with numerous family-friendly activities such as crafts, live music, dancing, a parade and, of course, birthday cake.

"Twenty years have been good to the aquarium," said E. Howard Rutherford, president and CEO of the Pier Aquarium. "This is a celebration of our 20 years in the community doing what we love best."

Free events are planned from noon to 2 p.m. in the Pier's Dockside Activity Room on the first floor. Create a party hat from newspapers, play a game of fishy bingo, have your face painted, or put on your dancing shoes and move to the beat of rock 'n' roll tunes performed by the Surfin' Raccoons. Raymond, the mascot for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Shrimp Louis, the mascot from Bubba Gump Shrimp House on Madeira Beach, will greet visitors at 12:30 p.m.

At 1 p.m., partygoers can enjoy chocolate and vanilla double-layered birthday cake with elaborate fish decorations from Cakes by Carolynn of St. Petersburg.

"It will be fun for parents who used to come here as children to bring their kids to celebrate our birthday," said Emily Stehle, who is coordinating the event and serves as the aquarium's director of public relations and marketing.

At 2 p.m., everyone will move to the aquarium tubes in the Pier Lobby, where the St. Petersburg Little Theater's Pizazz Song and Dance Troupe will teach partygoers how to do the Baby Shark Dance.

From 2 to 5 p.m., festivities will continue on the second floor of the aquarium, where regular admission will be charged. Anyone celebrating an August birthday and can show proof with a license or birth certificate will be admitted free.

The aquarium opened in 1988 but didn't have the resources to celebrate last year. It has changed quite a bit over the years. Rutherford said that if you haven't been to the aquarium in awhile, you might not recognize it.

"Over the past two years we have made significant improvements that support our transition to a marine discovery center," he said. "We have grown with our local marine research community. What you see today on the second floor of the Pier Aquarium is just the tip of the iceberg of our community involvement in marine education."

In 20 years, the aquarium has hosted more than 4 million visitors and more than 250,000 students in educational programs.

23 Today

Doubt: This play by John Patrick Shanley won the Pulitzer and a Tony Award. At a Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964, a strong-minded nun suspects that one of the priests is having an inappropriate relationship with a student. 3 p.m. American Stage Theatre Company at Raymond James Theater, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $22-$35, $10 student rush tickets available 10 minutes before curtain. Call (727) 823-7529.

Peddler's Market: Artisans will sell crafts, art, antiques, jewelry, food and other specialties. There will also be musicians. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Grand Central District, between First Avenue N and First Avenue S, from 19th to 31st streets, St. Petersburg. Visit grandcentral for more information.

Woven Threads Through Time: This exhibit explores the use of the backstrap loom and other techniques. Also shown are the stories behind the weavings and those who created them. Cultural and Natural History Center at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 453-6500.

Yoga in the Gardens: Take in this botanical relaxation and breathing session in a peaceful and picturesque setting. 1-2:30 p.m. Sunken Gardens, 1825 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. $8, $6 for ages 55 and older, and $4 for ages 2-11. Call (727) 551-3100.

24 Monday

Summer Sunset Film Festival: This outdoor film screening has the perfect setting for the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo: on the roof of Push Ultra Lounge. Jimmy Stewart stars as a police detective afraid of heights who is asked to follow an acquaintance's wife because she has been acting strange. Be careful descending those Push stairs after this one. 8:30 p.m. Push Ultra Lounge, 128 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 895-7874.

25 Tuesday

In a New Light: Highlights from the collection of the now-closed Gulf Coast Museum of Art include works by Theo Wujcik, Duncan McClellan, George Inness, Salvador Dali, Clyde Butcher, Miriam Schapiro and Sam Gilliam. Florida International Museum at St. Petersburg College, 244 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Call (727) 341-7900 or visit

26 Wednesday

Get More Plants: This propagation workshop will show those attending how to bring more of their favorite plants to their gardens by using air-layering techniques. 2-3 p.m. West St. Petersburg Community Library at St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free; registration preferred. For more information, call (727) 582-2100 or visit

Jungle Boogie: Children ages 3-5 will have the opportunity to make crafts, take walks in the preserve, and learn about Florida ecosystems, animals and plants. 11:15 a.m. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 893-7326 for more information.

Phyllo 101: Learn the basics to using this versatile, flaky dough; make brie phyllo cups, apple cornucopias and more. 6:30 p.m. Foodies, 2312 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. $45. Call (727) 209-1418.

27 Thursday

Endless Summer Sampling: Celebrate Labor Day early with this summer wine sampling. 5-8 p.m. VINO 100, 5056 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 522-8466.

Wee-time at Weedon: Preschoolers can learn about and explore the wide array of creatures that live underwater in "Into the A, B and Sea: An Ocean Alphabet." 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Free; registration required. Call (727) 453-6500 for more information.

28 Friday

S'Real Friday: The museum's Happy Hour event features art, silent films, music by MOD, food, and a cash bar. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dali Museum, 1000 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. Half price after 5:30 p.m., which makes it $8.50 for adults, $7.25 seniors, $6 ages 10-18, $2 ages 5-9. Call (727) 823-3767.

Summer Jazz Series: Listen to the jazzy sounds of the Orlando Stewart Trio. 6 to 9 p.m. Glass Conservatory at Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. $15 nonmembers, $10 for members; includes admission to the Hazel Hough wing galleries. Call (727) 896-2667.

29 Saturday

Dog Swim Day: The St. Petersburg Recreation Department will offer leash-free swimming for dogs before the pool closes for the season. Register at the start time with proof of your dog's current vaccinations. Donations of dry Iams or Science Diet dog or cat food, bleach, dish soap, trash bags, newspapers, clean towels and blankets will be accepted for the SPCA. No swimming for people. 1 to 3 p.m. Fossil Park Pool, 6739 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. $5 per dog; people get in free. Call (727) 893-7440.

Saturday Summer Market: Enjoy a variety of tropical plants, live music, crafts, farm-fresh produce and gourmet foods at this market. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. First floor of the Mahaffey Theater/Progress Energy Center for the Arts parking garage, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Call (727) 455-4921 or visit

If you go

The Pier Aquarium's 20th Birthday Party

When: Saturday, Aug. 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

Where: The Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg.

From noon to 2 p.m., event festivities in the Dockside Activity Room are free to everyone. From 2 to 5 p.m., interactive learning activities will be inside the aquarium on the second floor, and admission is $5 adults, $4 students (7 and up) and seniors (65 and up). Kids 6 and under get in free.

For more information:

Call (727) 895-7437 or visit


St. Petersburg's Pier Aquarium celebrates 20th birthday 08/22/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 11:21am]
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