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Metropolis Celebrates 50th Birthday of Adopted Son - Superman

June 12, 1988

METROPOLIS, Ill. (AP) _ Space-age cartoon heroes will never threaten the place of Superman in the heart of this southern Illinois community, which is celebrating the 50th birthday of its hometown boy.

″He’s an adopted son, so to speak,″ Mayor Richard Corzine said Sunday. ″This is about the 10th annual Superman Celebration. He’s one of the big highlights for the town.″

Almost 20,000 people gathered over the weekend in Metropolis for a Superhero birthday party, contests for Superboys, Supergirls and Superdogs, a mock bank robbery and a Superman baseball tournament, Corzine said.

Superman arrived on earth from the planet Krypton in Action Comics in February 1938. His alter ego was Clark Kent, who worked at the fictional Daily Planet in the imaginary city of Metropolis.

The real Metropolis realized during tough economic times in the early 1970s that it was the only U.S. city with the name of Superman’s home, so it claimed the Man of Steel for its own.

Billboards tout the adopted son on Route 45 at both ends of town; the water tower bears a picture of Superman; a statue of him stands overlooking the main street; the Chamber of Commerce has a telephone booth where kids can talk to him; and the local newspaper is named The Metropolis Planet.

But Superman, or at least the man who’s playing him this year, is not a mild-mannered reporter. He’s a service manager for the local Chevrolet dealer who acknowledges that donning the Superman outfit is ″a little bit like going outside in your underwear.″

″It’s the kids that make it worthwhile,″ said Mike Boyd, whose 6-foot-5 inch, 230-pound frame fits the comic book image. Boyd, in his second year of playing Superman, said Sunday he had signed about 500 autographs.

″A lot of grandmothers are asking for pictures,″ he said. ″They want a picture taken and an autograph to send to grandkids somewhere.″

Boyd stepped out of a police-escorted limousine Thursday night to kick off the celebration in this peaceful Ohio River town of 7,200, which rolled out a 5-foot-by-3-foot cake - enough to supply a piece for every celebrant.

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