PARADISE, N.L. — Watch out, Paradise. There’s a superhero roaming your streets helping rescue your kids from boredom — your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Robbie Griffiths — a 31-year-old Loblaws supermarket warehouse worker — has been dressing up as the popular comic book character this week and strolling through subdivisions in the community.
He doesn’t spin a web or scale tall buildings looking for bad guys. Instead, he looks for smiles and then waves, aiming to entertain children and their parents during this COVID-19 pandemic as families stay safely confined to their homes.
“Well, I was bored myself and figured the kids must be bored, too. So, one day I was looking out the window with my son — his first birthday is next week — and thought, why not get a costume and go around the neighbourhood to help the kids have some fun,” said Griffiths, who chose Spider-Man from his large collection of costumes because of the character’s popularity.
“It’s just something to take their minds off everything.”
The response has been incredible.
Griffiths did his first walkabout Tuesday and before leaving, posted on his Facebook page and the Paradise community page which streets he planned to visit. Before long, he was inundated with messages from parents, requesting visits to their streets for their kids.
“I didn’t think it would ever blow up like this,” Griffiths said. “I checked (Facebook on) my phone and there was like 200 messages. I was like what’s going on? I couldn’t believe it.
“I’ve been writing down street addresses and responding as best I can.”
Starting in the Paradise Road and Keystone Avenue areas first, he walked several kilometres on the first day, waving as he passed many homes, to the delight of children and their parents. Griffiths said he would comment on the kids’ artwork in the windows, while many of them waved and called out from windows, while others came outside to see him.
“I would say to the kids to listen to their Spidey senses that tell them to be careful and to stay six feet away and keep washing their hands,” he said. “One little kid started running up to me, but I had to jump back and remind him we have to keep our distance because staying safe was the most important thing.”
Even when people would request photos, Griffiths made sure he stayed far enough away.
He admitted there were some older people in the area who gave him “strange looks,” but said for the most part, people have been very kind.
Griffiths said one family was especially thrilled to see him. A father and son, also dressed in Spider-Man costumes, were waiting for him on their front step of their house.
“I absolutely love Halloween, so I’m having so much fun doing this,” said Griffiths, who has dressed in various costumes in the past for children's birthday parties.
The parents are certainly appreciating Griffiths' efforts and the joy he is bringing to their kids.
“Such an awesome thing you’re doing for the kids!” Lynn Crotty posted on the Paradise Community Facebook page. “You’ve got a big heart!"
Lisa Fitzgerald told The Telegram Wednesday that her son, Lincoln Pendergast, was over the moon to see his favourite superhero visiting their house. She said the three-year-old quickly ran to get his toy Spider-Man figurine and went outside to see him.
“He was so excited,” said Fitzgerald, who snapped a picture of her son with Spider-Man, who squat to the ground several feet behind. “When he saw him, he said, ‘Mommy, it's Spider-Man! Look!’
“It was awesome. I was so happy to see such a kind gesture from a complete stranger during this dark time the world is in right now. He definitely made a lot of people, both young and old, happy.”
Griffiths is grateful for the compliments, but was quick to point out there are other people in the community who deserve more recognition.
“I'm just trying to make someone’s day a little brighter just by going for a walk. I’ve got to give a shout-out to the doctors, the nurses, the caregivers, the grocery store workers and all those people who are keeping everything going for us,” he said.
“They’re the real superheroes.”