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Santa celebrates 20 years of swimming at the Newport Aquarium

Scuba Santa and little girl at Newport Aquarium.jpg
©2015 Newport Aquarium
Santa likes the Newport Aquarium and keeps coming back. It is a long way from the North Pole.

There’s a large colorful mass swimming around at the Newport Aquarium and it’s not a fish. It’s Santa Claus, complete with fins, an oxygen tank and a mask.

One of Santa’s little-known secrets is that he likes to swim with fish in all climates.

“The coral reefs are very nice," Santa says of swimming at the aquarium. "Here the temperature is about 72 degrees and 72 degrees underwater. It doesn’t sound too chilly, but here in Cincinnati, if you turn on your shower in the summer and you turn it on cold water, that’s about 72 degrees. But I have my nice neoprene Scuba Santa wetsuit here. It keeps me warm and, of course, I love the cold anyway! Ho, ho, ho!"

It was 20 years ago when Santa’s reindeer ran away and he made a stop at Newport Aquarium looking for them. He grew to love this water wonderland and made it an annual tradition.

Santa says he doesn’t think the fish mind him being there. "I know 'Denver,' our turtle, always enjoys it when I come down and he’s always very curious," he says. "Our new sharks are very curious because they’ve never seen me."

Scuba Santa--new sand tiger sharks at Newport Aquarium.jpg
©2015 Newport Aquarium

WVXU was wondering how many weights it takes to get the sizeable man underwater. "I’m carrying about 80 lbs of lead weights at least right now. So, it’s a lot of weight plus the tank. So, it’s about 100 lbs. Once I’m underwater I’m weightless. I love it!"

A few elves get in the water with Santa, too. St. Nick calls them the “safety elves,” for his sake. Others are on dry ground with the reindeer.

Why not a submarine, WVXU asks? Because he says he couldn’t interact with kids.

One of the best parts of swimming off all those calories is Santa can eat more.

"I’m so happy that Mrs. Claus is always here to fix me some milk and cookies between dives because she makes the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies," Santa says.

Santa will be at the Newport Aquarium through Dec. 24.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology