While Batman and Robin are known for keeping Gotham City safe from the Joker, Riddler and Penguin, around here they’re known for something very different — bringing some joy into the lives of numerous youths.
Larry St. Germain and his grandson, Devin, have been teaming up to bring costumed superheroes Batman and Robin to life, and that collaboration has been a major hit by all accounts. St. Germain, who lives in Destrehan, wanted to surprise his grandchildren at their school by showing up in a colorful costume for its Halloween festivities. You might think this is where the Destrehan Batman made his debut, but that assumption would be incorrect; St. Germain, actually, went a more villainous route, showing up at the school in the guise of a Storm Trooper from Star Wars. He didn’t stop there, visiting a number of local schools in order to brighten the younger students’ day.
“It was fun, but a while later, I decided I needed a change,” St. Germain said. “I went as the Storm Trooper because I thought that’s what (his grandchildren) would like, but I wanted something a little more in line with what I wanted to be.”
He made his decision, and this time he enlisted a little help to make a grand debut. St. Germain and grandchildren revealed themselves as the costumed Batman, Robin and Batgirl.
“We participated in a little parade (on the cruise), and it turned out to be a big hit,” St. Germain said.
Over the next year, the trio made the school rounds. While “Batgirl” then decided to retire from the tour, St. Germain and grandson Devin kept the Batman and Robin duo alive and even expanded their efforts. In addition to touring schools, the two also became involved with the Make-a-Wish foundation, which grants wishes to children who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
“There was a young boy in LaPlace who had brain surgery,” St. Germain said. “His big wish was to go to Disney World, and he also wanted to meet Batman. And they granted his wish.”
While a celebratory party was going on for the boy at Disney, Batman indeed walked in to offer a welcome greeting.
“He was ecstatic,” St. Germain said. “He was very excited. That was the most rewarding thing since we’ve begun doing this. It’s why I do it. I’ve always wanted to be part of Make-a-Wish, and this was my way to help.”
The heroic tandem has participated in Norco, Luling and Des Allemands Mardi Gras parades. While parades tend to offer numerous attention-grabbers for their attendees, Batman is never one to blend in.
“Children will run up to me and hug my leg,” St. Germain said. “It just melts my heart. One girl asked me, ‘Are you real?’ I put out my hand and said, ‘Touch my hand. Now, is it real?’ She said, ‘Yes!’
“You believe in Santa until a certain age, and it’s the same with us. I’d never tell a child that Batman isn’t out there.”
They also visit local libraries. In Paradis, there was a small “Batcave” area set up, and the turnout was tremendous. The Batcave’s drawing power has proven to be no fluke, either.
“Halloween of last year, I set up my Batcave in my son’s driveway in Ormond,” St. Germain said. “He told me that he gets 8 to 10 trick-or-treaters at the most each year. Once the word got out that Batman was there, we counted 278 kids and their parents came by to visit. I had to shut it down and they were still coming.”
St. Germain said he chose Batman because it was the hero he grew up with, noting that while children today have television, video game consoles, the internet and various other things to command their attention, in his day comic books were a big outlet.
“Superman came first, but Batman was really my superhero,” he said. “I guess it turned out to be the right choice.“I’m not a superhero, but in the eyes of the kids, when I put on that costume, I am. If we can put a smile on kids’ faces, then I feel like we’re accomplishing our task.”