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!).
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“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!”
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