This article was originally written in 2019.

THERE are lots of fun ways to celebrate the Dolphin Shopping Centre's 50th anniversary which takes place all through this weekend.

But the return of its beloved wooden animals is the thing that will gladden most midlifer's hearts.

Bournemouth Echo:

The hippo, turtle and whale were the centre's most popular play equipment, sculpted by artist Peter Hand and instated in 1969 where they were enjoyed by thousands of children for 30 years. They were removed for health and safety reasons in 1997 but were the subject of repeated calls to bring them back, including a petition and a viral Facebook campaign.

Bournemouth Echo:

Centre manager John Grinnell said: “The hippo, turtle and whale are a cherished part of the centre’s heritage, so it’s only natural that these would return for our special celebratory weekend and several weeks following this.

“We understand that they hold great sentimental value for many people that spent their childhoods in the shopping centre. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to climb on the animals, but they will be in full view for people to enjoy.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Along with the wooden animals the centre is holding a number of events over the weekend including free ice cream served on sustainable bamboo plates in celebration of the Dolphin’s sustainable ethos, a Giant Pass the Parcel, live music from The Summer of ’69 Birthday Band – complete with 1969 and Beatles-inspired costumes to get shoppers in full swing to celebrate, plus birthday cake and a three-day special 'postal' service.