A new kids' TV show from Jim Henson Studios, called Splash and Bubbles, recently debuted on PBS. It focuses on the adventures of a group of fishy friends, such as Splash the yellowback fusilier and Bubbles the mandarin dragonet, in and around their watery home of Reeftown. It's a pretty neat show, meant to teach kids about marine biology and the ocean, along with the more usual slate of kids' show messages pertaining to friendship (it's magic!), emotional growth, and so on.
As it so happens, Splash and Bubbles is a co-production between Jim Henson Studios and Herschend Studios, a subsidiary of Herschend Family Entertainment, which is the parent company that owns the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, where I work. Because of this, parts of the TV show's live-action segments about marine animals were filmed at the Newport Aquarium, and we are also the first institution to allow guests to meet Splash and Bubbles in mascot form! It was sort of an unexpected partnership for many of the employees at the aquarium, but not an unwelcome one, by any means.
We have two mascot costumes, one each of Splash and Bubbles, which were created and built in the Jim Henson Creature Shop. This is the same workshop where the Muppets are made, among a great many others! I've always loved the Muppets and other Jim Henson properties, so I was thrilled to learn that I was to be the first person ever to perform as the Splash mascot for the visiting public. Basically, I got to be a Muppet all day! It's a small role, for sure, but awesome to be able to take even a minor part in the Henson legacy. :)
The suits are fairly simple, but really cool. They're very lightweight, considering their size (easily six feet long from nose to tail), and they have built-in fans for ventilation, as well as a mechanism which allows the wearer to blink/close the eyes for expressive effect. Compared to my aquarium's old heavy, quilted penguin mascot suit, Splash here is almost like wearing nothin' at all (nothin' at all, nothin' at all...). Of course, seeing as how the characters themselves lack legs, we have to wear baggy blue "wave pants" and shoe covers to take attention away from our own appendages, while the giant fishes ostensibly ride upon a big blue waterspout...or something.
Anyhoo, I just wanted to share this, 'cause I think it's pretty cool that I get to perform in a costume made at the Jim Henson Creature Shop. If you're in the Cincinnati/northern Kentucky area in January or February, then feel free to swim on by and meet Splash and Bubbles before they head back home to Reeftown!