I discovered last week I have a new talent, which involved smiling kids, laughing adults and a bit of embarrassment on my part. Yes, that was me in the blue Power Panther costume Wednesday morning at Anson Elementary School, promoting exercise and healthy eating. As I mentioned last week, I was encouraged to get in the costume because they were looking for somebody tall. With the costume on, I had to be nearly 7 feet tall.
I guess I didn't realize what I was in for until I put the head of the costume on. There was a small hole that you both breathe and see out of, which could be challenging at times. Plus, my noggin must be bigger than the average Power Panther because the bottom of the head was real tight on my chin. After eventually getting everything on, it was time to meet some kids.
It didn't start out great during my first classroom visit of the day. I scared one kindergarten girl to tears and felt bad.
But I persevered and with most of the other students I was a big hit, as I started getting random hugs, and we took several classroom photos. I had no vision down low so one hug I didn't know was coming until the student had his arms wrapped around my legs.
I became increasingly more comfortable with the costume as the morning went on and we headed outside to play games and do exercises.
When I first put on the costume, I was worried that a strap might not stay on and it was a very important strap. You see, it was much like suspenders and if it snapped my pants possibly could have dropped. It was fortunate for all in involved that the strap was functioning fine and by the end of my hour in the suit I was doing jumping jacks and and whirling around a hula hoop with the students.
After my hour was up, I peeled my sweaty self out of the costume, chugged a bottle of water (my second bottle chugged in the span of an hour) then headed out of the school.
During the middle of the event, I asked the school district employee who put me up to this if this Power Panther visit was an annual event. Luckily, she assured me this is a one-time special event, so I can officially say I'm retired from being the Power Panther.
All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable time and it felt rewarding being able to put so many smiles on the faces of kids.
And my pants stayed on - I call that a win-win.
Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org