The day hasn’t been exhilarating just for Batkid, the 5-year-old leukemia survivor whose wish to become a superhero came true Friday in San Francisco, thanks to the generosity of a city known more for its adult indulgences than for its sentimentality for tots.
It’s also been exhilarating for those of us who were able to follow the adventures of Miles, a little boy from the teensy Northern California town of Tulelake, as he traveled the city in a Batmobile, with a grown-up Batman at his side, performing daring deeds of bravery, arranged by playacting adults for a child who has been battling cancer since he was 20 months old.
The magical transformation of San Francisco into “Gotham City” was arranged by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, whose good deeds for ailing children are usually far less interactive or splashy.
Even the San Francisco Chronicle got in on the act, producing a front page of “The Gotham City Chronicle” with the banner headline “Batkid Saves City,” and stories by, who else? Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
In the morning, Batkid rescued a woman tied to cable car tracks before helping police (whose motorcycles were festooned with cartoony “Kaboom!” signs) nab the Riddler, who was robbing a vault on Montgomery Street. Later, Batkid rescued the Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, from the Penguin at AT&T; Park.
In the afternoon, thousands of people turned out on the plaza outside San Francisco City Hall to watch Miles receive the key to the city.
The escapade drew at least 11,000 volunteers, according to Patricia Wilson, the Make-a-Wish executive who pulled the feat together.
"I thought I could do it on a scale that a 5-year-old would appreciate," Wilson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But apparently, it's on a scale now that the nation appreciates.”
No kidding. Thanks to a live stream of the action by the local ABC station and constant Twitter updates, #SFBatkid news overtook all the dismal news about the typhoon in the Philippines and Obamacare’s botched roll out. For a brief few hours, the enchanting Batkid became the symbol of our better natures, our desire for goodness, and our nostalgia for the make-believe world of little kids.
Maybe Batkid needed Make-a-Wish to make his dream come true, but the rest of us caught up in his adventures needed Batkid more.
In the late afternoon, a small plane flew over the city trailing a banner that said, “Wishes really do come true. #SFBatkid.