I got lots of good stuff for a book here. If I was ever in doubt that this book will be about something important to people, that doubt was put to rest by this trip. People really make Superman an importatnt part of their lives, and not always for the same reasons. The Superman Celebration crystallizes that into one weekend. For some, it serves the same function that Halloween costuming serves: a chance to put on another face for a day or two, to let loose. I interviewed a pair of brothers, Alex and John Rinaldi, who do not put on costumes but are devoted Superman fans. They said that to dress up like that is to become interesting to others, like becoming a god for a weekend. An interesting observation.
For the town, it's an economic goldmine. They have other things that help this, a casino, a revolutionary war fort (with its own festival and re-enactment), and a harley davidson ralley. But many of them, while not necessarily fans, really get behind Superman and the Celebration. they love the work and the result. They love meeting the people. Karla, one of the chairs of the committee, compared it to a cross between Disneyland and a small town Festival. I'd replace Disneyland with a comic convention, but that might just be because I haven't been to disneyland. But my reason for the convention is the sense of community, which I doubt exists at Disneyland. Do many of the people who run the theme park know the guests by name? Perhaps, but do they incorporate the guests into the opening ceremony, allow them to run a trivia game? My interview with Karla included several moments when attendees would come up to her to chat for a bit. She knew them all by name.
All told, some 40,000 people attended the four day event. There were costume contests, a soft ball game, a car show, and scores of other events. I can't even list them all here, but they spread all over the town. I'm not that adept at fieldwork, having had little practice but a lot of theoretical instruction. I think I may have to go back next year.