Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen wonders, constructs, architecture, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. In later years those trips took the form of cross-country drives to other states, passing by odd roadside attractions to see historically significant locales, world-famous landmarks, and/or pretty natural scenery. For our first four trips, we were all about geek-centric gatherings.
Once upon a time in 2001, my best friend and I chose a summertime destination different from the conventions we’d attended the two previous years. At the southern tip of Illinois and across the Ohio River from Paducah, KY, the small town of Metropolis devotes the second weekend of every June to their world-famous Superman Celebration. More than just a carnival acknowledging their local heritage and history, the Celebration invites tourists from all walks to come join in their festivities, as well as actors from various Superman movies, TV shows, and other related Super-works who come in for autographs and Q&As.
The 37th annual Celebration is coming up this weekend, June 11-14, 2015. We regret we’ll be missing this one due to other commitments, but in honor of that special occasion, we dug through our scrapbooks and photo albums to unearth our 35mm souvenirs of the very first time we visited the self-styled real-world hometown of the Man of Steel.
Metropolis is a 300-mile drive from Indianapolis, roughly five hours if everyone stays out of my way. Head over to I-24, get off at Exit 37 north of the Ohio River, take US 45 west for a few miles and you can’t miss it unless your windows are painted black.
In case the billboard isn’t enough, other landmarks will point the way toward their main straightaway, Market Street, where all the action is.
Every Metropolis tourist is required by federal law to pay a visit to the Superman statue on their town square. He stands astride a giant S with plenty of space for large groups to gather ’round for mandatory photo sessions. At that size he’s impossible to resist.
Superman is fifteen feet tall, bronze, and permanently wearing the classic costume we knew throughout childhood. Strange phases, reboots, and questionable Hollywood choices are useless against this Last Son of Krypton.
Rest assured the old Adventures of Superman TV show’s motto of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” isn’t going away as far as Metropolis is concerned.
Our most recent visit to Metropolis MCC: Superman Celebration 2012 Photos, so I can’t vouch for all of what’s there today. I know there’s now more than one of these cardboard standees to allow tourists and locals alike to imagine themselves as leaders of the Justice League. Or the Super-Friends, if you’re a bit older.
This van was/is property of the Super Museum & Souvenir Store, the premier destination for fans of merchandise bearing the insignia of DC Comics’ most well-known super-hero. You can buy items from the front of the store or pay admission to see the one-of-a-kind exhibits in the official museum section in the rear.
At the time, on the Super Museum’s back wall was this mural starring the Supermen we knew and loved on various live-action screens — Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, and Dean Cain. And NO ONE ELSE.
To be continued! We direct you to Part Two for more about the Celebration guests and the great Super Museum, and to Part Three for a look at what else we found in the area that weekend. Thanks for reading!