The Nashville Predators are always committed to inspiring children to get out and exercise, and this time they teamed up with Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star to do so.
The children’s television network, Nickelodeon, traveled to Music City to host their “On the Road to Worldwide Day of Play” event, which encourages kids to get involved in physical activity.
“This is the 12th year of Worldwide Day of Play, and it’s been great because we’ve decided to take a stand on kids getting up and getting out to play,” Nickelodeon Director of Public Affairs Roland Guevara said. “We saw how incredible it was and decided to say, ‘You know what? Let’s go to existing play.’ That means parks, playgrounds, camps...whatever's going on, and you bring some value to that.”
The event, held on June 15 at Ford Ice Center, featured a playground with giant, inflatable games of basketball and bowling and a Nickelodeon slime booth.
“[Nickelodeon] called us two weeks ago and said, ‘We’re coming to Nashville, and we want to do an event with your fans and your community,’ so we said Ford Ice would be a perfect location,” Predators Senior Director of Community Relations Rebecca King said. “We’ve got a big park and a lot of fans that would love to be a part of this.”
Preds defenseman Seth Jones, Gnash and the young stars of Nickelodeon’s “100 Things to do Before High School,” Isabela Moner, Owen Joyner and Jaheem Toombs also made appearances to participate in activities and interact with the attendees.
“We’re just bringing Nickelodeon into these towns so that kids can play together with us and have a great time,” Guevara said. “We’ve gone to Detroit, we’ve gone to San Diego, we’ve gone to Virginia Beach and we’re going to New York City again, so we’ve expanded play that way as well.”
Kimberly Dawes, mother of two, brought both of her boys out to the event on Monday afternoon.
“This has been amazing, and they’ve had a great time,” Dawes said. “There’s a lot of activities for the children to do. My little guy is a huge fan of the Nashville Predators, and he loves to play hockey. [He was a ] little shy meeting Seth, but he braved it and got his hat signed, so that is fantastic, that was his highlight for sure. Getting slimed is next on the list, and I definitely think that may be a close call.”
Dawses’ youngest son Alec, 8, has spent many days skating at Ford Ice Center in hopes of growing up and becoming a goaltender like his favorite Preds player, Pekka Rinne.
“Activity and exercise are so important and definitely No. 1,” Dawes said. “Sometimes it gets so hot that [the children] don’t get outside as much, and the community coming together, being a part of this activity and event at Ford Ice Center, we’re celebrating the Nashville Predators.
“[Ford Ice Center] is a beautiful, it’s great bringing hockey to the area, and now I hope a lot of kids will be introduced to outside activities and hockey in general. Bringing that to Tennessee, Nashville’s become huge in hockey, and I think next year is going to see some growth in this area.”
The event was a large success in part to the existing relations the Preds have with children’s clubs, camps and organizations.
“We reached out to all of our non-profits that we work with and we told them about this free event,” King said. “Come meet Spongebob, some of the cast from one of the Nickelodeon television shows, we had Jones coming, Gnash coming…it was a no-brainer. Kids came in the masses and a lot of camps brought their camp to Ford Ice for the day. It’s to encourage them to get active, stay fit, and I think it’s great that Nickelodeon and a TV show is encouraging kids to get out of the house, out of being in front of the TV and get active. ”
The next stop On the Road to Worldwide Day of Play is just around the corner, but Nashville will always be remembered by Nickelodeon.
“It’s been an amazing partnership [with Ford Ice Center, the Preds and the city of Nashville],” Guevara said. “The Nashville Predators have truly been a pleasure to work with, and we acknowledge and recognize a lot of great teams throughout the country and in different sports who are doing amazing work. It was a breeze to work with the Predators, with the work that they’re doing. They are truly amazing and the impact they’ve had, there are over 1,000 kids outside. This is awesome.”