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Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific hosts 20th annual Baja Splash Festival this weekend

Aquarium of the Pacific officials decided early on in its history that the institution should connect with the diverse Long Beach population by celebrating the various cultures here.

Add the Pacific Ocean-centric aquarium exhibits, including its Southern California/Baja Gallery, and it should come as no surprise that the first cultural celebration the aquarium hosted was the Baja Splash Festival. And 20 years later, that festival remains a calendar highlight.

The two-day festival is set for this weekend and will celebrate cultures in Mexico and countries in Central and South America. The event will feature music, dances, booths with handicrafts and bilingual environmental education programs.

Over the years, participation has grown to the point there will be two performance areas this time: the Honda Pacific Visions Theater; and in front of the aquarium’s tallest exhibit, the Honda Blue Cavern, at the end of the main hall.

“Baja Splash was the start of the aquarium’s 20-year history in connecting with communities of various cultures so that together we could build long-lasting relationships and amplify community voices,” Marilyn Padilla, Aquarium of the Pacific director of public relations and the Baja Splash festival organizer, said in an email.

Padilla called it an honor to be able to work with various people and institutions over the last two decades to put on the festival, and “celebrate the beauty and diversity of cultures from Mexico and Central and South America.”

One of the people involved with Baja Splash since its inception is Martin Espino, a musician and teaching artist for more than 50 years. Espino, who has presented interactive programs at every Baja Splash Festival to date, will receive the Heritage Award on Saturday, Oct. 2, for his efforts.

Other groups that have been involved with this festival since it began include Danza Azteca Cultural Ketzaliztli and Folklorico del Mar.

The festival will include the Little Ocean Explorers program in the aquarium’s Ocean Theater, and a bilingual seaweed-themed “loteria” game, with prizes connected to the aquarium’s Seafood for the Future program, which is set for 3:40 p.m. Saturday in the Ocean Theater.

The aquarium follows all required COVID-19 requires masks for those older than 2.

Capacity is limited and reservations are required.

If you go

What: Baja Splash Festival.

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and 3.

Cost: Included with aquarium admission. General admission, $36.95 per person at least 12 years old; $26.95 per child ages 3 to 11); $33.95 per senior, those at least 62 years old; and free for anyone younger than three. Aquarium members also get in for free.

Information and to make reservations: aquariumofpacific.org.

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Source: Orange County Register

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