Let's start at the beginning...
I arrived in Paducah Airport on Monday at 9pm (local time) and was greeted by Jeff Germann. Jeff had organized his whole family (wife and 4 kids) to come to Metropolis two days earlier than originally planned so that they could pick me up from the airport. A wonderful gesture that was just a small taste of what was to come...
Jeff drove me around Metropolis showing me the sites in a quick sort of way (being late at night) before dropping me off to the Amerihost hotel where I was staying.
The next day (Tuesday) I walked to Superman Square, took photos of the 15 foot Superman statue and the Super Museum building, before walking inside and introducing myself to Jim Hambrick and his staff.
The Super Museum has got to be seen to be believed. The collection of Superman memorabilia, props, costumes, toys, etc... is amazing! Jim has some fantastic items in his collection. Breath-taking stuff. I wondered through many times during my stay in Metropolis, taking photos, reading the plaques, staring in amazement... It truly is something every Superman fan should see.
Jim is an amazing man. Most nights during the Celebration, I and a bunch of guys would sit outside the Super Museum listening to Jim talk about his collection and the people he's met, places he's been. Sometimes Jim would bring out some Superman stuff for us to look through. One night it was George Reeves stuff, such as George Reeves Will and other legal paperwork pertaining to his death. Another night it was "Smallville" props, such as the actual Kryptonite necklace worn by Lana Lang.
Wednesday night I rode with Jeff Germann back to Paducah airport to meet Noel Neill. Noel and her friend (and author) Larry Thomas Ward are very friendly people. I'd had the good fortune of sharing emails with them both prior to arriving in Metropolis, so to meet them face to face was a wonderful experience.
I also met Chuck Harter, Bob Holiday's manager at Paducah Airport, and drove with him back to the Amerihost Hotel in Metropolis. At the hotel Chuck introduced me to Bob Holiday.
Bob and I had also shared many emails prior to this trip, and our first meeting could not have been better. Bob Holiday is a wonderful man. We became good friends during our time in Metropolis. Bob has released a book, "Superman on Broadway" which to my utter surprise has me listed inside the front cover within the "Thank You" list. I couldn't believe it! But that was only the beginning. More wonderful surprises were waiting for me in regards to Bob Holiday...
That same night I joined Bob Holiday and Noel Neill with 9 other people (including Jeff Germann, David Olsen, Brian McKernan, Chuck Harter) for a meal at the Harrah's Casino bistro. I sat next to Noel Neill and had a great chat with this wonderful woman.
Next morning I met up with Noel and Larry for breakfast, before heading off for the start of the Celebration.
The Celebration began on Thursday June 12th, with Noel Neill cutting the official ribbon in front of the Superman Statue. At this same ceremony, Noel was given the Key to the City, and officially announced as the First Lady of Metropolis.
Friday June 13th was a busy day. The "Lunch with Lois" was held at Farley's Cafeteria (just up the road from the Superman Statue). People were able to purchase tickets to have lunch, and then have a photo with Noel Neill while also getting their copy of her Biography signed by both Noel and author Larry Thomas Ward.
Throughout the day there were many organized events for people to enjoy. One such event was the "Survivor: Krypton" game hosted by Steven Kirk. This was a fun game where contestants had to compete against other teams in silly games such as an egg and spoon race, a water-balloon throwing competition, and other fun stuff, all tied-in with a Superman touch to them. There were Superhero Costume competitions for the kids and a Superman Jeapordy competition for the adults. All in all a lot of fun.
Friday afternoon I was quite busy helping out for rehersals for the Superman Theatre Production. A 5 minute play put together by Steven Kirk and his wife Vicky. I had a small part in the play (as Ceasar's Ghost), but the most fun I had was standing in for Scott Cranford as Clark Kent/Superman during the rehersals. During the Celebration Scott is kept extremely busy as the official Town Superman, and therefore was unable to attend the rehersals. So it was up to your's truly to stand in for him. :) I rehersed with T.J. Ross, the wife of Alex Ross, who is a regular attendee at the Superman Celebration each year. T.J. was cast as Lois Lane (and is perfect in the role).
Later that same night, everyone was treated to a wonderful performance by Bob Holiday. In his first public appearance since the 1966 Superman Broadway Musical, Bob Holiday performed in front of a packed house. It was a night I won't ever forget.
Earlier in the day, Bob Holiday approached me with a special request. He told me that they had created a 6 foot cardboard standee of himself as Superman from 1966, that they wanted to have brought out on stage during his performance. Bob wanted me to bring out the standee on stage. What an honor it was for me...
Not only that, but during his performance, Bob Holiday thanked a number of people, including Jim Hambrick and Jeff Germann. He then went on to mention my name, thanked me in the most unbelievable way, and wished me and my wife Sonia the best of luck with our coming first child. I was totally stunned. It made my night!
After Bob Holiday's performance, the Superman Theatre Production took to the stage. While not listed in the Official Celebration Program, the 5 minute play received rave reviews from those who stuck around to watch it. Scott Cranford is a natural for the part of Superman... Warner Bros. could do a lot worse than casting him in the role for the next Superman movie. Not only does he look perfect for the part, he's a real gentleman. Scott and his wife are also expecting their first child!
Saturday June 14th was another day packed with things to see and do. Jeff Germann and I ran around between the three Banks in Metropolis, taking photos of Noel Neill, Bob Holiday and Yvonne Craig who were each in separate Banks for Autograph Sessions.
Later all the celebrities, Noel Neill and Larry Thomas Ward, Bob Holiday, Yvonne Craig, Steve Rude, and Scott Cranford were brought to the Main Stage for a Question & Answer session with the general public. This went on for about 1 hour, with some interesting questions and some even better answers. The highlight question came from Bob Holiday to Yvonne Craig, when he asked, "Can I have your phone number?", sending Yvonne and the audience into fits of laughter.
I spent the rest of the afternoon helping out in the Theatre, setting up for the Auction Dinner night, before returning to my hotel room to get ready myself.
The Super Auction Dinner is quite possibly the highlight of the whole Celebration. Celebrities and Collectors mingle together prior to dinner being served, with many taking the opportunity to browse through the items on stage ready to be auctioned. There were 149 items in all. The items that caught my eye were a "Superman: The Movie" poster signed by Christopher Reeve, the replica "Smallville" Kryptonian Key, a Superman magazine signed by Christopher Reeve and Joe Shuster, a "George Reeves Superman" autograph, a George Reeves "S" emblem from the Season 4 Superman costume and the Ultra-Woman costume worn by Teri Hatcher in the "Lois & Clark" TV series.
Another piece that caught my eye was the Bob Holiday Superman Cardboard Standee that I'd been asked to bring out on stage during his performance... Needless to say, this was the one item I bid for during the auction... and won.
After dinner was served, the Awards Ceremony took place, with a few awards being given. I was very surprised to receive one of the six "Superman of Metroplis" awards for my contribution towards the Superman Celebration. It was a real honor.
A new award, the "Noel Award" was announced in tribute to Noel Neill, and was awarded to T.J. Ross.
The coveted "George Award" (the most prestigious award of the night) was given to Jeff Germann... and deservedly so.
Immediately after winning my award, I was pulled aside by a reported from the L.A. Times newspaper who interviewed me and several others during the evening. The ensuing article made the front page of the L.A. Times.
Before leaving for the night, I sat down and spoke with Noel Neill and presented her with a small Koala toy I'd brought with me to give to her. She absolutely loved it, asking me to sign it for her. :)
Sunday June 15th draws an end to the Superman Celebration, with most street vendors packing up and leaving. It's amazing how quickly the transformation takes place, from a bustling festival to a sleepy little town.
Before he left, Steve Rude was kind enough to draw a great Superman sketch for me. I'll try scan it and get it up on the website for you to see soon.
One of the strangest things that happened to me while in Metropolis, was having people come up to me asking for my autograph and asking to have their photo taken with me. Totally bizarre! Fun, but weird for me... A little embarrasing... but great for the ego. ;)
During my stay in Metropolis I met some wonderful people... David Olsen, who organizes the Auction Dinner each year, was kind enough to allow me to room with him and his friend Al in their Hotel room. David is a great guy and did an excellent job as M.C. for the dinner.
Other great people I met included, Larry Blankley, Steve Leslie, Hugh Troyer, Brandon Troyer, David Troyer, Lawrence Pacheco, Steven and Vicky Kirk, Kevin Collier, Jerry Newingham, Scott Stanley, Bill Artis and a host of others.
Sunday night a group of us went to dinner at the "Outback Steakhouse" in Paducah. The guys all thought it really funny to take me to an "Australian" restaurant while in the U.S. The food was great, but it was quite funny to see what was considered Australiana in regards to the decor and the food on the menu.
All in all, the Superman Celebration in Metropolis Illinois is fantastic! I'm so glad I made the trip. I went there looking forward to seeing the Superman Statue and the Super Museum, and came away really cherishing the wonderful people I met and the friendships I made. While I was really looking forward to coming home, it was hard saying goodbye. It's kind of sad knowing that I wont see those guys for the celebration next year, and possibly for a few years to come. But if I had to rate my time in Metropolis on a scale from 1 to 10, I'd give it 11.
Make sure you look through the Photo Gallery I've put up.