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Plano fest celebrates Superman

Superboy as depicted by Charlee Chartrfrom St. Louis takes donations from Koltleft Konrad Walters Sheridan 2012's Smallville Superfest Plano get

Superboy, as depicted by Charlee Chartrand from St. Louis, takes donations from Kolton, left, and Konrad Walters, of Sheridan, at 2012's Smallville Superfest in Plano to get out of "jail." | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 20, 2012 10:00AM

It’s a bird, it’s a plane …

“This is Main Street America and resembles the town where Clark Kent grew up,” said David Jafri of Carpentersville, posing in front of an American flag painted mural on a brick façade in downtown Plano.

On Saturday, loyal fans of the fictitious comic book and motion-picture hero destined to save the world attended the inaugural Smallville Superfest — a Superman-themed festival celebrating last year’s filming of “Man of Steel,” in downtown Plano.

“We had around 700 people for Friday’s opener and in Plano that’s a decent crowd,” festival chairman James Martens said. “It’s 100 percent certain we will host the festival next year — the movie will be released next summer and we hope to bring out some of the stars.”

Festival-goers tested their strength in a “super strongman” contest by bench pressing their weight and seeing who could do the most repetitions and tested their flying capabilities in a “super zip line” from the skies above Main Street, while children exercised their super jumping abilities on the “super bounce.”

Randy Mueller, owner of Snap Fitness in Plano, said top heavy weight Art Hrvatin, Jr., of Plano bench pressed 280 pounds, 12 times, while a female participant bench pressed 75 pounds, eight times.

Family and friends interested in supporting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries by funding research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy — ordered people to a mock jail to serve time as a “super villain” for $1 per minute.

A group of employees from Rural King in Plano decided the fundraiser was a way to show their appreciation to the late actor Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Clark Kent and the super hero in the motion-picture film “Superman” in 1978.

In 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse in an equestrian competition. He became an advocate for people with spinal-cord injuries. “I feel he was the best Superman of all,” Christina White said.

Melinda Benevelli said last summer’s filming put Plano on the map and let people know Plano is “a wonderful, family community” that resembles the fictitious town of Smallville where Superman grew up without his parents.

Superman look-a-likes roamed the streets. “I get that a lot,” said Dale Brunner of Carpentersville, who resembles a young Superman and frequents comic book conventions with his friends.

Brunner, 27, said Reeve is an inspiration both on the Silver Screen and as a person. “I dress like this to keep his memory alive and support his foundation,” the software programmer said.

“Superman shows us how much power we have as individuals to work together for a better world. Superman can never really stop a war, but we as a collective whole can,” Brunner said. “Reeve is a one-on-one inspiration to not give up,” he said.

Joanie Hare of Plano brought her 8-year old grandson, Lucas Park, to Smallville Superfest. “I like how Superman fixes things with his super laser eyes,” Lucas said.

Co-organizer Nicole Diaz said custom-made British style phone booths were stuck in a warehouse in Hodgkins, Ill. so a “super phone booth relay” had to be cancelled. “Super powers were unable to get the phone booths here,” she said.

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