Effort: "Theodore Tugboat Tour."
Twist: To bring its popular "Theodore Tugboat" animated children's TV program to life, Cochran Entertainment built an actual tugboat this year based on the star of its series. The boat, a real 65-foot tugboat designed for pleasure outings, has been visiting major East Coast cities since April, offering free tours. More than 12,000 fans visited it in Boston over four days in mid-July.
Vital statistics: This summer, a fleet of five giant Theodore Tugboat inflatables also is touring marine festivals and children's events inland and on the West Coast. This fall, the $1 million tugboat will embark on a nine-month tour of cities on the Atlantic and Great Lakes. The boat already has boosted ratings for the 130-episode "Theodore Tugboat" series, which airs nationally on Public Broadcasting Service stations. All visitors to the boat receive brochures supporting the title character's role as the National Safe Boating Council's official spokesman for water safety.