As I write this there are only two weeks left of the Gromit Unleashed trail in Bristol. (There is the coming together off all the statues in ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth’ at the RWA in mid-September, but that doesn’t count towards these thoughts.)

Last year we heard a lot about the ‘Olympic Effect’ around London and how everyone was suddenly very friendly towards each other on the tube and walking around the city and I think Gromit Unleashed has had a similar effect in Bristol; it’s fantastic! People have been queuing up very patiently to have their photos taken, allowing extra time for the children to all look the same way, then handing cameras back to the next people so a rare image of the whole family together can be taken. There is a genuine camaraderie gained by seeing the same people again later in the day at a different Gromit; ‘Which route did you take?’; ‘How many have you seen now?’; ‘Where is the one at Harvey Nicks?’. In one of the friendliest cities in the country, people just got friendlier.

It’s easy to spot a group of Gromiters — they are the ones walking around, map in hand, with a gaggle of children who at any point may scream at the top of their voices, ‘A GROMIT! I SAW A GROMIT!’. The look on my kids faces at seeing their 70th Gromit was the same as the first; a look of pure joy, imagination and excitement. I’ve lived in Bristol for 8 and a half years but have been to places this summer that I didn’t know existed, all on the quest to see another Gromit. It has solved the age-old ‘what should we do today?’ question that often occurs at 8am in the lives of a 3- and 5-year-old (and their parents). Whatever the weather, there are Gromits to see.

Gromit Unleashed has been great for tourism, great for locals, great for Bristol. There are only two questions that need answering now: What’ll we do when the Gromits are gone? How the hell do I get the Wallace & Gromit theme-tune out of my head?!

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