June 28, 2016 01:00 PM

When it came to planning Tia Mowry-Hardrict‘s son Cree‘s fifth birthday party on Saturday, the theme was a no-brainer.

“Cree is really into sharks,” Mowry-Hardrict tells PEOPLE exclusively. “He can tell you all kinds of sharks — hammerhead, reef. I wanted to have the theme tailored to him.”

The Mindy Weiss-planned fête was complete with an inflatable submarine, bubble play (“my sister [Tamera Mowry-Housley] and I loved that!”) and shark-bite décor (think flip-flops with jaw marks!).

Michael Simon/Startraks

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Michael Simon/Startraks

Michael Simon/Startraks

And Cree (who wore head-to-toe Janie and Jack) had a very special birthday gift, thanks to his mom and dad Cory Hardrict, 36.

“We gave him a remote-controlled submarine,” says Mowry-Hardrict. “He just had to have it. He was reminding me of it every day before his party!”

Michael Simon/Startraks

Michael Simon/Startraks

Michael Simon/Startraks

At the bash, guests snacked on hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and lemonade as they celebrated, though Mom admits she was momentarily overcome with emotion.

“When everyone started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Cree and I saw the number five on the cake, it all just hit me,” says Mowry-Hardrict, 37. “I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, my child is really and truly growing up!’ “

— Aili Nahas

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