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When sons birthday trip to aquarium gets cancelled mom transforms house into aquarium

May 19th, 2020

Parents bend over backward to usher in big milestones for their kids. From their first birthday bash to a high school graduation open house, these events range from memorable to meaningful.

When two-year-old fish-loving Clark Spagnuolo’s birthday fell during the coronavirus pandemic, mom Becky had to punt. The Michigan woman had already planned a special birthday trip to Shedd Aquarium that she knew Clark would simply love.

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

But now, that wasn’t possible. Their trip from Wixom, Mich., to Chicago, Ill, to visit the highly acclaimed aquarium had to be canceled due to the coronavirus and Clark didn’t understand.

Some of Clark’s first words were “fish” and “Dory” from the movie “Finding Nemo.” He’s an oceanographer in the making!

He would’ve adored a trip to the aquarium, which opened to guests May 30, 1930. Founder John G. Shedd wanted his hometown of Chicago to have the biggest and best aquarium in the world.

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

Even his big brother, four-year-old Mikey, was upset about the birthday trip becoming a flop and he wasn’t as big of a sea-faring fellow as his brother.

So how could the family regale Clark with a birthday party to remember and still make it as exciting as a road trip to the aquarium?

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

Mom began brainstorming and came up with the craziest idea. Could she pull it off?

Well, not only did she completely follow through with her idea, but Clark was captivated by what his mommy did for him.

“We really needed something to make everyone smile.”

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

Becky and her husband Nick recreated the Shedd Aquarium inside their home. For two weeks straight, they whipped up craft projects, researched the aquarium’s displays and read up on ocean-themed books to try and get their decor as accurate as possible.

Thanks to online shopping and upcycled materials found within their home, Becky and Nick were able to pull together this grandiose idea. Even Mikey woke up at 4 a.m. on the day of Clark’s birthday to help transform their home into a sea of blue.

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift
They used blue plastic tablecloths taped to the windows to represent the ocean and hung crafted paper jellyfish from the ceiling. Balloons were scattered everywhere and the kids even received paper admittance tickets.
A projector splashed water reflections all across the ceiling. A live stream from Shedd Aquarium played on their television.
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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

When Clark awoke and left his room, he was shocked. He couldn’t believe what his house looked like!

“He absolutely loved it.”

The decor wasn’t the only thing that entertained Clark on his birthday. Using inflatable dolphins, Becky and Nick put on a puppet show. They fished for candy, played pin the tail on the stingray and made Magellanic penguins out of decorated toilet paper rolls.

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

Not only was Clark beyond thrilled with his big birthday surprise, but it helped take the family’s mind off of what was going on outside their four walls.

“It’s hard to vocalize how I’m feeling right now … Working on this project gave me and my family something else to think about. So it was heartwarming for me to see both my boys so happy, but then in the back of my mind, I was still wondering when or if I’d actually get to take them to the real thing?”

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Flickr/Marco Verch Source: Flickr/Marco Verch

The decorations remained up long after Clark’s birthday passed by. The family was so enamored with their magical masterpiece that they just couldn’t bring themselves to take them down.

“I hope it gives other parents some ideas of how to make things a little better for the kids.”

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

In all, Becky estimates she spent $80 for supplies. She believes their big project could inspire other families.

“I know a lot of us are under financial strain right now, you don’t need to spend a lot of money.”

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Facebook/The Uplift Source: Facebook/The Uplift

And when Clark’s underwater birthday decorations begin to sag or fall down, the family intends to look for another big project to take their mind off the coronavirus and being quarantined.

What an incredible thing this family did for Clark’s second birthday bash! If you’ve done something similar at your home, share your photos with us!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: The Uplift, Good Morning America, Shedd Aquarium

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