All eyes were on “Gotham” Friday as San Francisco’s Batkid -- a 5-year-old boy battling leukemia -- lived out his dream of being a superhero, taking to the streets to save the city from the likes of the Riddler and the Penguin.
Nearly 12,000 volunteers and adoring fans holding signs crowded streets for the full-on transformation of the city so Miles, who has been battling lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old, could spend the day with Batman at his side.
Coordinated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the effort was complete with a Batmobile, a personal call from Police Chief Greg Suhr asking for help, and staged rescue scenes involving villains the Riddler and Penguin.
After freeing Riddler's hostage, Batkid was off to AT&T; Park where -- as a flash mob involving hundreds of people in Union Square alerted the 5-year-old -- the Penguin had kidnapped Lou Seal, the San Francisco Giants mascot.
That was after a quick bite to eat with Batman.
San Francisco resident Sara Sanchez, who heard about BatKid on Facebook, came decked out with a huge sign that read “SF <3 Batkid.” She said the energy in “Gotham” rivaled the two parades celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victories she attended.
“Seeing the city come out in support, it makes you really proud to live in a city like this,” she said.
Batkid's adventures captured the hearts of residents and transfixed the nation on social media.
The San Francisco Chronicle announced it would reprint a special edition of the Gotham City Chronicle, which were to be handed out in Union Square, after demand for copies soared, Audrey Cooper, managing editor of the Chronicle, told The Times.
"This is what I love about San Francisco," Cooper said by email. "We’re a quirky city that loves freethinkers. We totally understand a 5-year-old cancer survivor who wants to dress up like Batman.”
California politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, called on Miles and commended his bravery. Standing on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, Swalwell recorded a personal video message to Batkid, saying he would be flying home to a hopefully safe Bay Area that evening.
“Batkid, Gotham city in California needs help,” he said. “We’re all counting on you, Batkid, to use your superhero powers to protect our city.”
After rescuing Lou Seal at AT&T; Park, Batkid was to be presented with a key to the city during a presentation at City Hall.
Miles' cancer is in remission, and with the last of his chemotherapy in June, "he wanted to be Batman," Patricia Wilson, the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Bay Area executive director, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Not long after the organization began making plans, thousands of volunteers had signed up to cheer on Batkid. The mayor, police chief and local media also got in on the action, turning it into a citywide spectacle.
Teary-eyed tweets praising the city’s efforts poured onto social media Friday, and even President Obama lent his support to the pint-size superhero:
The #SFBatKid story is seriously so heart warming. Everyone go read about it and then cry uncontrollably like I am.— Nik Brady (@nmb419) November 15, 2013