This was the challenge set by Moors Valley Country Park in Ringwood and remembering the time when my son met Peppa Pig at the age of two (which did not go so well, the thought of his heroine in real form was all too much), a whole year later, I felt he was brave enough to meet the other hero in his life.
In a debut appearance at the park and to celebrate the anniversary of the Gruffalo’s 15th year anniversary, which is also being celebrated in many other parks throughout the UK, the Gruffalo awaited the arrival of many little children who prepared themselves for this fairly poignant memory maker. We spotted him from afar and the excitement was building however, so as not to thrust his hero upon him too early we warmed up the big meet by taking him to see the amazing sculpture of the beast himself who will be residing at the park for a few years to come, so there’s plenty of time to catch him.
The rehearsal went well with a hand shake, photo opportunity and even a hug, this was going to be a successful meet and greet so we confidently went off to overcome his fear. As the children lined up and watched on in eagerness to wave, kiss and hug the rather cuddly and fluffy 6ft character, my son smiled on beamingly. We shuffled nearer and it was now time for my son to face his fears, warmly welcomed to embrace and shake hands, poor Gruffalo was left hug less and without even a hello. Quivering behind Dads leg, nothing, not even bribery would get him closer than 5ft, so defeated (along with others) we started to walk away. No sooner had we stepped in the opposite direction, than a cry of panic hit us… ‘Gruffalo, I want the Gruffalo!’ The usual toddler theory presented itself.
Missing his opportunity and not wanting to push in and break queue rules, my son theatrically gave the Gruffalo one final double handed kiss, right on target it reached the terribly tusked, teethed and clawed carnivore, finalising the meet with a huge wave from both sides. He loved seeing the Gruffalo and as with most human instincts, wanting to see but wary to touch, happy with a simple acknowledgement. Feeling satisfied we then headed off with other satisfied and distraught children having to leave the biggest influence in their lives, other than their parents. Why didn’t you know?
To find out more about the Gruffalo’s 15th year anniversary and site visit locations visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo
To see what more Moors Valley Park has to offer including the 1st year celebrations of the Gruffalo’s Child and the new trail coming soon visit http://www.moors-valley.co.uk/