ST. HELENA — “Superheroes are not just born, they’re made,” Spider-man said to at least 20 superheroes in training at the St. Helena Public Library on Thursday.
The masked web-slinger went to the library to give kids – many dressed in costumes – tips on how to be a superhero just like him. But before things got serious, Spidey did some “superhero magic” to get his students loosened up.
With a little help from little Spider-man, 5-year-old David Sandoval, Spidey made things disappear and reappear. In one clever trick, he stuffed two blue scarves into his “Spidey-socks” – a term that, like everything he said, prompted giggles from the kids – and one rainbow scarf in a bag. He was going to make the rainbow scarf vanish from the bag and show up between the two blue scarves in his socks.
The superheroes in training helped by charging up their superhero powers, putting their hands in the air and sending them to David and Spidey – “I feel something,” Spidey said. When David checked the bag, the scarf was gone. Spider-man pulled it out of his sock, right where he said it would be.
The kids were hooked.
The little superheroes stood up in front of Spider-man, waiting obediently for his instructions.
Their first lesson was in speed. Superheroes need to be “fast,” he said. Mimicking the wall-crawler, the children jogged in place and did some jumping jacks, “clapping at the top because it’s just cooler that way.”
Next up was strength training: push-ups, sit-ups, and side bends. To strengthen their jumping legs, they even did some squats – an exercise that had parents laughing and taking pictures. They stretched and were told to “shake it out,” which created a mini-mosh pit with kids falling to the floor, rolling around in silliness.
Finally, it was time to test their skills by jumping over the Amazing Spider-man himself.
“Pro tip: when you land from your jump, spread your feet apart,” he instructed after shepherding the pint-size heroes into a straight line. Putting his “life on the line,” he lay down on the ground, allowing the children to jump over him one at a time (mostly).
High-fives followed. Then it was time for photos.
David, who was wearing a Spider-man costume, said that Spidey was his favorite superhero “because he shoots webs. I watch a lot of TV shows of Spider-man.”
“My favorite part was training,” said Tommy Pesch, 5. When asked if Spider-man was his favorite superhero, he simply replied: “See, look what I’m wearing!”
Tommy was also decked out in Spidey outfit, mask included.
His brothers, Danny, 3, and JJ, only 6 months, enjoyed the superhero training, too, said mom Lauren Pesch.
“Oh, it was so cute,” she said. “Spider-man was great – he really got the kids.”
“It was amazing,” said Jocelyn Maravilla, whose son, Benjamin, was dressed as Iron-Man. “The kids were really interacting,” said Maravilla, who found it great that he even had the kids exercising.
According to librarian Mari Martinez Serrano, that was all a part of the plan.
“It’s an extension of our summer reading program,” she said, dressed as Batman’s Robin. The summer reading program focused on movement and being healthy, she said.
Serrano thought to get a superhero in the library because it is something both boys and girls can get into, she said.
For more information about programs at the St. Helena Public Library, visit shpl.org or call 707-963-5244.