First responders get in free to the Aquarium, Friday

The Aquarium of the Pacific is offering free admission to first responders this Friday, Sept. 11, as a thank-you gesture to the men and women who provide assistance to those in need, often putting their own health and lives at risk in the process.

“It’s our way of thanking the people who are in these tough and demanding professions and offering them a day where they can come and relax and enjoy the aquarium with friends and family,” said Claire Atkinson, Senior Manager of Communications at the aquarium.

Between the pandemic and the California wildfires, Atkinson added, there is a special significance to the event this year because “all these folks are on our minds, and they deserve our thanks.”

The aquarium launched this annual event the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 to remember those who passed and acknowledge those who continue to serve. Nearly 20 years later, they continue the tradition inviting all manner of first responders—firefighters, nurses, doctors, police officers, sheriff deputies, EMS employees,  911 dispatchers—to enter for free. Friends and family are offered general admission tickets at $15.

In light of the pandemic, the aquarium has capped the total party size to six people, one first responder and five guests and requires that all guests follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering during their visit.

Only the outdoor exhibits are currently open which include the Lorikeet Forest, Shark Lagoon, Moon Jelly touch lab, June Keyes Penguin Habitat, Skates & Rays touch pool, California Steelhead, Shorebirds and Archerfish exhibits.

The maximum capacity for the event is limited to 500 guests, those interested will need to make advanced reservations online. Active personnel will need to present their employee ID, paycheck stub, or professional organization members ship card upon arrival. Only one free admission per reservation is permitted.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way. The aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make your reservation or buy tickets, click here.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.