Salem residents have one last weekend to take advantage of an unusual gift — free admission to the recently refurbished New England Aquarium.
The one month of free admission, which can be combined with Salem Ferry discounts, runs out Monday.
What doesn’t run out is the generosity of the donor who made it possible — the Norman H. Read Charitable Trust. Each year the trust, started by a Texas geologist with family roots in Salem, donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote science education in the city.
Most Salem natives are familiar with the annual Read Fund Picnic at the Willows, a free outing that’s been a fixture for decades at the end of every school year; it’s now morphed into an outdoor science fair. But that was only the beginning.
The Read Trust has created and stocked science centers at virtually all of Salem’s public schools. It pays teacher salaries for science specialists who coordinate programs throughout the system, and it paid to build and equip a hydroponics lab at Salem High. When Saltonstall School moved back to its Lafayette Street building this month, it had a newly transformed Science Discovery Center with beautiful ocean views, courtesy of a $50,000 donation from the Read Trust.
For two years, Salem residents were offered a month of free admission to the Museum of Science — and they flocked to take advantage of it. This year, it’s the aquarium, a particularly timely offering considering the aquarium has recently been updated and redesigned, most notably with a magnificent coral reef added to the giant, four-story ocean tank.
So, as you admire the sea lions frolicking this weekend, or reach down to pat the cownose rays as they glide through the touch tank, take a moment to be grateful for a man who died in 1992, far from Salem, but never forgot his roots.
One man can make a difference.