SpongeBob SquarePants, the cartoon hero from the deep blue sea, made a big splash when he stepped ashore to meet shoals of young fans in Wrexham.
The big yellow sponge, who stars in one of Nickelodeon’s highest rated shows and has reeled in a host of awards including two Emmy Awards and two BAFTA Children’s Awards, normally lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, in the city of Bikini Bottom on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab.
But he took time off from his aquatic adventures to become the latest in an all-star parade of kids cartoon favourites making personal appearances at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre during the summer holidays.
First in line to meet SpongeBob were sisters Leah, 10, and Bethan, four, Burke from Brymbo who were there with their mum, Amanda.
She said: “They’re both big fans and watch him all the time on TV.
“They wanted to be sure to see him today so they insisted we were first in the queue.”
Bethany said: “I’ve been waiting for weeks to see him and it was lovely to cuddle up to SpongeBob.”
Jane Mallaband, from Marford, brought along her four-year-old son William to meet the special guest.
She said: “When I told William we were coming here to meet SpongeBob today he thought I meant we were going to see him at the cinema, so he was really delighted when he actually got to meet him in person.
“He’s been more excited about this than our recent holidays in Austria.”
Two-year-old Bethany Muir, from Oswestry, had a really close encounter with SpongeBob and even tried to brush his big white teeth when she came in for a cuddle.
Her mum, Leanne Jones, said: “She’s a really big fan and couldn’t wait to get here when I told her we were coming to meet him.”
“Brilliant!” was the verdict of Annalise Bates-Leach from Wrexham after she’d met her underwater hero.
She was at Eagles Meadow with her one-year-old sister Maisy and their mum, Rachel, who said: “They’ve both been waiting all week for this and now it’s happened they’re both really thrilled.”
According to mum Michaela, four-year-old Teila Lloyd from Wrexham, who met Spongebob along with her one-year-old sister Taliayana, is “just obsessed with the squashy cartoon star.
“She’s got every one of his DVDs plus the bedding and toys with his name on them, so coming down here today was a must for us.”
Teila herself couldn’t stop jumping for joy after shaking Spongebob’s hand and was too breathless to give much of an impression – other than a big beaming smile.
Kim Roberts, from Cefn Mawr, brought along her two grand-daughters, Brooke, five, and two-year-old Amelia Curtis-Roberts.
“Brooke’s the one who really loves him so we definitely had to come out and meet him today,” said Kim.
Making a special trip from Whitchurch to see Spongebob were seven-year-old Ebony and Imogen Evans, four.
“It was really great to meet him and he was so cuddly,” said a delighted Ebony after saying hello to her hero.”
And just to prove what a big fan he is six-year-old Aaron Rowley from Wrexham brought along his own Spongebob pyjama case.
After meeting him along with his eight-year-old sister Elise, Aaron said: “I’m a really big fan and it was so good to meet him.”
SpongeBob Squarepants’s appearance was the latest in a series of similar visits to Eagles Meadow by popular children’s TV characters during August.
Paddington Bear and Shaun the Sheep have already stopped by at the shopping centre and last but not least will be The Gruffalo who’ll be arriving in Wrexham on Tuesday, August 25.
The Gruffalo is one of the world’s best-loved picture book characters. Since it was first published in 1999, the award-winning story of mouse’s encounter with The Gruffalo in the deep dark wood has continued to delight children and adults the world over.
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “It’s been a lovely day today, the weather has been wonderful and the children were delighted to meet their hero, SpongeBob.
“As a grandfather myself, I know how popular he is and I can’t wait for the arrival of my grandchildren’s favourite character, The Gruffalo, next week.”