CLEVELAND — A crowd of more than 1,400 gathered Saturday at BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland for the official grand opening at the Cabbage Patch Kids' new home.
Cabbage Patch Kids creator Xavier Roberts attended the event, performed the ribbon-cutting and signed hundreds of Kids for excited collectors.
Misty Hughes of Nashville, Ga., and her sister, Hannah Bailey of Gainesville, brought Hughes' daughters, Kenley Hughes, 3, and Railey Hughes, 6, to the celebration.
"We were visiting for the weekend, and we thought, what a great place to bring the kids," Misty Hughes said. "We didn't know it until we got here that (the Cabbage Patch Kids) would be dressed in tutus, and Kenley is dressed in a tutu."
Railey said her favorite part of the celebration was "the tree," where the Cabbage Patch Kids are "born."
Hughes, originally from Blue Ridge, said she brought her daughters to the event because she remembers playing with Cabbage Patch Kids as a child.
"We both as young people went to the original (BabyLand), and we have one of the very originals, the big ones, with Xavier Roberts' signature on it," Hughes said.
Gavin Brown, an elementary school student from Gainesville, said his favorite part of the celebration was the rides, but he also got to meet Roberts.
"I got a picture with him," Brown said. "It was cool."
Brown said he has two NASCAR Cabbage Patch Kids. "I have Jeff Gordon and (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.)," he said.
Roberts said he plans to further develop the acres surrounding BabyLand with botanical gardens.
"Hopefully we're going to do a butterfly house, all kinds of things," Roberts said.
"And have more events and do a lot of car shows, just fun things for the family to come to and just get away for the weekend."
He said the ability to grow is an advantage of the new facility.
"Before, we couldn't really grow. We didn't really have the space. So now we're here, beginning to expand, and just kind of learning the ropes a little bit," he said.
As for the popularity of Cabbage Patch Kids, Roberts said it still doesn't seem real.
When they first came into vogue, he said, "we couldn't even get to the phone lines, and I picked up the phone and the Wall Street Journal called, and they asked for me, so I said, ‘Hold on, please,' and then I said, ‘Hello, this is Mr. Roberts.'"
The Kids' popularity across the world, with collectors and children, remains a surprise to Roberts.
"Just to travel to different countries and see little Australian kids carrying (Cabbage Patch Kids) around is very fun," he said.
"It's still hard to believe out there today when you have all the people," said Roberts. " I've gotten to meet a lot of (the collectors) over the years, so it really is like a family when you really get to see them and catch up with them, and see what they've done, and see the grandkids."