Aquarium sees 25 millionth visitor arrive Temple Hills man, 22, gets red-carpet treatment

September 06, 1998|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Derrick Young came to the National Aquarium in Baltimore yesterday intent on updating a picture he took there five years ago. What he got was a snapshot for the ages: He was honored as the aquarium's 25 millionth visitor.

Accompanied by his son, Derrick Young Jr., 3, his fiancee, Carla Alexander, 21, and her mother, Patricia Alexander, 52, Young was escorted down a red carpet by mascots Puffin the Penguin and Dewy the Dolphin as a brass band played.

After a confetti shower, Young received a VIP hat, a gift basket filled with goodies, including a few Beanie Babies, a yearlong aquarium membership and gift certificates to the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.

The 22-year-old musician from Temple Hills -- who also received a citizen's citation from the mayor's office -- said he was shocked to be plucked from the ticket line and informed he was the lucky visitor.

"We just wanted to have a day out with the little man," Young said, gesturing toward his son, who seemed bewildered by all the attention. "But this is great. I feel wonderful."

David M. Pittenger, executive director of the aquarium, said yesterday's excitement reminded him of the facility's opening in 1981, when the line stretched for blocks with people eager to see aquatic life.

The number of visitors during the past 17 years testifies to the public's desire to be educated and entertained, Pittenger said.

"I think people have a fascination and attraction for living things," Pittenger said. "They can come here and have fun learning."

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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