Bah, Humbug: SpongeBob Banned From Xmas Lighting

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SpongeBob SquarePants

Sponge­Bob SquarePants

Bureau­crats in Wolver­hamp­ton, Eng­land refused to let Sponge­Bob Squarepants go on stage for the city’s Christ­mas lights turn-on cer­e­mony because it was felt that his cos­tume was to large for him to climb five steps to the platform.

Health and safety con­cerns also stopped him from being lifted onto the back of a float due to the crowd of 2,000 — includ­ing many fam­i­lies with young chil­dren — that showed up to see the car­toon char­ac­ter. That means Sponge­Bob couldn’t be car­ried around town.

Many young fans couldn’t see him Fri­day night because the children’s char­ac­ter could only be on ground level.

How­ever, the yel­low guy was allowed to meet and greet fans in Beat­ties and Mar­ket Square. Health and safety rules meant that he could spend just two 40-minute ses­sions with fans.

Bring­ing Sponge­Bob to the big event cost £1,845 ($3,000 U.S.).

John Williamson, 45, of Wolver­hamp­ton said that his nine-year-old daugh­ter Lola was left in tears after she couldn’t see her idol.

Bah, Humbug: SpongeBob Banned From Xmas Lighting

Bah, Hum­bug: Sponge­Bob Banned From Xmas Lighting

It’s ridicu­lous to ban a children’s char­ac­ter from a Christ­mas lights switch on,” he fumed. “You would hope the coun­cil wouldn’t be such health and safety scrooges and let the kids have a good look at their character.

Lola had been talk­ing about see­ing Sponge­bob Squarepants for days, but was incon­solable when she couldn’t even get a glimpse of him.”

Sponge­Bob had been expected to turn the lights on along­side Coro­na­tion Street star Sher­rie Hew­son, but the soap opera star had to press the but­ton by herself.

Wolver­hamp­ton City Coun­cil lead­ers called last week’s event a success.

The Christ­mas lights switch-on was a great suc­cess, with huge crowds turn­ing up to Mar­ket Square to enjoy the free event,” said Mark Black­stock, the council’s out­door events man­ager. “Unfor­tu­nately, the char­ac­ter actor play­ing Sponge­Bob Squarepants was unable to climb the stairs on to the stage because of his costume.

Health and safety con­sid­er­a­tions meant we were unable to lift him on to the stage using the tail­gate of one of our vehi­cles because of the high num­bers of peo­ple around the stage.

This meant that Sponge­Bob Squarepants was unable to appear on stage dur­ing the event. But he did spend an hour and 20 min­utes meet­ing fans both in Mar­ket Square and Beat­ties House of Fraser.

As the actor could only be per­mit­ted to stay in his suit for 40 min­utes at a time, again for health and safety rea­sons, we arranged the two 40-minute meet and greet ses­sions to enable the pub­lic to see him close up.

Dur­ing this time, he met as many young fans as pos­si­ble at both loca­tions, though we of course apol­o­gise to any­one who couldn’t see him on stage and was unable to meet him in person.”

Ten-year-old Jes­sica Drew, a pupil of Wood­field Junior School in Penn, joined her Girl Guide group to watch the light­ing ceremony.

The fire­works were really good and we enjoyed it, but we were dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t see Sponge­Bob. We just thought that he hadn’t turned up because we never saw him once. There was no sign of him on stage at all,” she remarked.

Just two years ago, another cos­tumed car­toon char­ac­ter let fans down at the city’s Christ­mas lights bash. Peppa Pig had to cut down on her meet-and-greets over con­cerns that she would over­heat in her suit. The woman in the suit cut short the visit her­self, say­ing that she had gone over her time limit in the costume.

Beat­ties staff offered to wear the suit them­selves to pre­vent chil­dren and par­ents from being dis­ap­pointed chil­dren and par­ents. How­ever, they were told that they couldn’t take on Peppa’s role. At the time, Beat­ties said the meet-and-greet had lasted longer than expected in spite of health and safety rules.

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