Half-millionth visitor expected

The Flint RiverQuarium

The Flint RiverQuarium

ALBANY, Ga. -- When the sun sets in Albany on Saturday, officials at the Flint RiverQuarium say it's likely the attraction will have served its 500,000th guest.

It's a milestone for the RiverQuarium, which opened in 2004.

To mark the occasion, the RiverQuarium will give a lifetime membership and other prizes to whomever actually walks through the doors of the facility as the 500,000th visitor Saturday.

The half-millionth visitor also coincides with an uptick in attendance figures, RiverQuarium officials say, which they believe is attributable to both a healing economy and a busy summer.

According to RiverQuarium CEO Scott Loehr, the facility saw an upswing in visitors that was 42 percent higher than for the same period last year.

"People are growing weary of the recession and are searching for things to do closer to home; more of a staycation rather than a vacation," he wrote in a press release to The Herald. "By offering folks a variety of family-friendly activities, more southwest Georgians are choosing to visit the Flint RiverQuarium."