SpongeBob SquarePants is coming back to Wolverhampton – after the Express & Star revealed thousands missed seeing him at the city’s Christmas lights switch-on because of health and safety red tape.
The children’s character could not climb the stairs on to the stage at the festive extravaganza because of the size of his costume and could not be hoisted up on the back of a lorry because of the huge crowds that had turned up to see him.
Young fans who had braved the cold weather to see the star during the Christmas ceremony last Wednesday were left disappointed when he remained on ground level, meaning many could not see him over the huge crowds.
But, after this newspaper revealed why the character had not been elevated above the throng, children’s channel Nickelodeon has now stepped in to organise a return visit to the city.
The character will be at the Mander Centre on Sunday from midday to 4pm.
And Nickelodeon will cover the costs of the visit – after the city council paid £1,845 to hire the actor for last week’s let-down.
Nickelodeon UK spokeswoman Alison Bakunowich said: “We’re just happy that SpongeBob can meet his fans.
“SpongeBob is all about spreading joy and happiness and when we learned about what had happened on Wednesday, we knew that we would have to bring him back to the city so that his Wolverhampton fans could get the SpongeBob experience that they deserve.”
Mark Blackstock, head of entertainment and events for Wolverhampton City Council, added: “We are so pleased that SpongeBob is making a return visit to Wolverhampton so soon.
“We regret any disappointment caused at Wednesday’s event and look forward to SpongeBob being able to meet his many local fans in person.”
Families can see Spongebob on the lower ground level of the Mander Centre on Sunday, where he will post for photos and give away prizes.
Despite not being able to get on to the stage, Spongebob was able to meet and greet fans in both Beatties store and Market Square during last week’s Christmas festivities, but could only spend two 40-minute sessions with fans because of health and safety rules.