Superheroes Take to the Park at Derry Recreation Program

Joanna Gordon laughed as she described the superhero costume she concocted for her son Liam Keating, 4. “He’s wearing a towel for a cape – he’s ‘Super Liam,'” she said as she watched the preschooler tear around the shaded lawn behind the Hood Park concession stand.

The caped crusaders, men of steel and women of wonder converged on Derry’s Summer Recreation program last week. On Monday children at Don Ball Park could make a superhero mask in the Craft of the Day; and on Thursday children could attend Superhero Training Camp at Hood Park. On Tuesday, July 22, heroes big and little put on their capes for an afternoon of games at Hood. It was all part of the “Superheroes versus Villains” theme week for Parks and Recreation.

The entire group, counselors and caped kids alike, posed for a photo before Kelsey Walsh, assistant playground supervisor, laid out the rules for Freeze Tag. Capes billowed as children and young adults chased each other around the lawn, with parents and younger siblings cheering them on.

Staff member Tyler Busby had a homemade Iron Man costume, with a mask, chest protector and arm coverings made of red and yellow foam plastic. “I like Iron Man, he’s cool,” Busby said before tearing off after someone to tag. When he was little, he said, his favorite was Batman. Staff member Maura Kane was a female Thor and Sheilagh Linehan was resplendent in the red and blue of Superman.

Sofia Villa, 5, and her brother Alvino, 3, wore capes handcrafted by their mother Lily. While Sofia participated energetically in the freeze tag event, Alvino sat in the shade and played quietly with a truck, and that was okay.

“We’re in our second year and my kids love it,” Lily Villa said. “I am amazed at what they come up with for programs.”

Walsh is the “brains” behind it, fellow staff member Debbie Mailloux said. But all the staffers do their part, she added, saying, “They are all such good sports!'”

Freeze tag ended and the gasping, giggling children and staff listened as Walsh stated the rules for Capture the Flag. The children divided into teams with staff members holding blue or green flags, and they were off and running again.

Dianne Langlois had two children at the program, a son, Eric, 14, and daughter Julia, 5.  Eric had been coming to Rec since he was 5 and was spending this summer as a volunteer, she said.

“He’s almost ready for us to recruit,” Mailloux said.

Langlois said she’s logged 10 years of coming to Summer Rec. “They offer lots of activities, and we’ve enjoyed it every year,” she said. Eric wore a Captain America T-shirt as he helped out, Langlois wore a Superman tee and Julia was a tiny Batgirl in a yellow and black T-shirt with the familiar logo and a black tutu skirt.

She switched her focus to Julia and began snapping pictures as Julia evaded another superhero. Linehan, in the “safe” zone of inside a hula hoop, called out, “Julia, save us!” and Julia made it to the safe zone.

“The kids will sleep well tonight,” Mailloux said.

Summer Recreation continues for three more weeks and includes a Movie Magic theme through Friday, Aug. 1; Big Top Carnival, Aug. 4 through 8; and Epic Games Aug. 11 through 15. Programs are free and held at Hood Park or Don Ball Park. For times and locations, call Derry Parks and Recreation at 432-6136.