Thank You, Stephen Hillenburg

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon. The cartoon series made its debut in May of 1999, while I made mine in June. I have adored this program for a lifetime and with the recent news of the creator’s passing, I couldn’t see a time better fit to pay tribute to someone who gave me so much.

Stephen Hillenburg was a cartoonist, animator, and marine biology teacher. He created the longest running Nickelodeon series, still going strong today, SpongeBob SquarePants. Hillenburg also wrote, produced, and directed for the show and its related films. Among his many recognitions for the show were two Emmy Awards. SpongeBob SquarePants is the second longest-running animated children’s show on U.S. television and the fifth longest-running animated series on U.S. television. That is an incredible accomplishment and record-breaking in itself.

Being from Virginia Beach, I believe my love for SpongeBob stems back to my childhood as I could pretend the characters were living right in my backyard. Every time I walk on the beach, even now, seeing a crab is synonymous with Mr. Krabs and the same goes for sea sponges and SpongeBob. Over the years I’ve dragged my family on many adventures like meeting SpongeBob at malls, visiting the Nickelodeon Hotel on many occasions, and going on a Nickelodeon cruise. In elementary school, I chose the sea sponge as my subject for a marine biology project and begged my teacher to let me to bring in my four-foot tall, plush SpongeBob doll. Needless to say, I was successful.

Obviously, this is my favorite show of all time, but I think that the best part about SpongeBob, is that to me, he’s synonymous with simple joy. My fondest memories as a child are the lazy Sundays with my dad watching it. Being on a college campus today, it is very rare that I don’t hear a SpongeBob quote or reference at least once every day. There is even a mural of him somewhere in a basement at my school.

Though it is my personal experience and a bit too late, I wanted to express my gratitude to a tremendously skilled animator and a true genius. Thank you for creating a character that I now hold so close to my heart. You and your astounding achievements will never be belittled, nor forgotten.