A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Newport on the Levee gears up for holidays with tree lighting, renovated AMC theaters and Scuba Santa

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Newport on the Levee has shifted into full-on Christmas mode this week with the traditional-tree lighting Tuesday evening and the arrival of Scuba Santa today.

The 50-foot tree is illuminated with1.4 million lights at Newport on the Levee

Also, just in time for the holiday movie-going season, is the debut of the renovated AMC Newport on the Levee 20,  which has added luxury recliners, the Dolby Cinema experience and a host of other upgrades.

Light Up the Levee: Grand Illumination, included holiday music, treats, hot cocoa, a visit from Santa, ice sculpting demonstrations, hula-hooping elves and prizes.

An overflow crowd stood shoulder-to-shoulder in eager anticipation of the event that kicks of the holiday season at Newport on the Levee. Just before 7 p.m., 1.4 million light were turned on to illuminate the Levee’s 50 foot tree.

Over at the Newport Aquarium, some invited guests got an early look at Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa Tuesday as well.

Santa and his elves greeted the guests and took some early Christmas present requests in advance of his official debut.

Newport Aquarium is the only place in the region where families can celebrate the holidays under the sea.

Elves welcome Scuba Santa to the Newport Aquarium for his traditional holiday visit (photos by Mark Hansel).

Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa blends the thrill of indoor bubble showers and the intimacy of uniquely holiday-themed galleries with the tradition of Scuba Santa, who has been a fixture at Newport Aquarium throughout the holiday season since 2003.

Rob and Megan Lynch of Hamilton, and their sons, Maverick and Phoenix, are annual members of the Newport Aquarium but have never been to any events. Rob Lynch, who is originally from Florida, said it’s great to see his kids get to enjoy the aquarium experience he grew up with, and likes putting Santa in the mix.

“We think it’s fantastic. The Aquarium has done a great job decorating, the Santa is great, and it’s just a good time to bring the kids down here and see a lot of cool things,” Rob Lynch said. “I was shocked at how much the boys loved it. We didn’t know how they would respond, but it couldn’t have been better.”

Children have the opportunity to meet Scuba Santa one-on-one, as he dives inside the 385,000-gallon surrounded-by-Sharks tank, and tell him their holiday wishes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Maverick and Phoenix Lynch of Hamilton, Ohio, tell Scuba Santa what they want for Christmas at the Newport Aquarium.

The Water Wonderland journey will also take guests through a number of holiday-clad galleries, including Shark Ray Bay Theater, Sea Horses: Unbridled Fun, Gator Alley, Stingray Hideaway and Kroger Penguin Palooza.

Water Wonderland runs through December 31, but Scuba SAnta will not be diving on Christmas Day, December 25. For more information about Water Wonderland, including details of the Breakfast with Scuba Santa, click here.

For more information about events at Newport on the Levee during the holiday season, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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