The Adventures of Hobbes the Toy Tiger
You’re going on holiday and you have doubled checked you have everything – twice. You make it to the airport, and onto the plane, everything running smoothly. Then your child asks to hold their favourite toy and that’s when you realise: the toy is stranded at the airport!
This is what happened to the Lake family in Florida. Owen, 6, had accidentally left behind his favourite toy, a tiger named Hobbes that had been hand-made by his aunt in Houston, Texas, who the family were going to visit.
Amanda, Owen’s mum, frantically called the airport, Tampa International in Florida, to see if Hobbes has been handed in. He hadn’t, and although the staff don’t usually make a priority of finding lost items, they searched the airport because of how important the toy tiger was to the boy. They found Hobbes casually lying near one of the children’s play areas.
The Lakes wouldn’t be back straight away and Operations Center Manager Tony D’Aiuto had an idea. Taking inspiration from a story he had heard about a stuffed lion having an adventure around a museum in England, Tony took Hobbes on a little adventure of his own.
During his lunch hours, Tony took Hobbes around the airport and took pictures of the little tiger in various poses, checking out some of the jobs that are carried out at the airport. Tony explained that while it felt strange to be walking around with the toy, people would see him and excitedly offer their help. “They took ownership and got creative in ways I couldn’t have,” he said.
After taking pictures, and posting them on the airport’s Facebook page, Tony had another idea. Using a promotional code for American pharmacy chain Walgreens, Tony created a book of the pictures, complete with a little story, about Hobbes’ adventures around the airport.
The little tiger, along with his book, was then placed in the Lost and Found where he patiently awaited the return of his family.
When Owen and his family came back to the airport, on their way back from Houston, he and Hobbes were reunited. So happy to have his favourite toy back, Owen grinned ear-to-ear and loved his little book.
“We already told [Owen] over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure,” said Amanda. “It was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”