Birthday parties: Hiring an entertainer

Executive editor Kerrie Lee Brown thinks having Spider-Man hang around at her son's birthday party was the best money she ever spent.

Above: Brock with his favourite superhero, Spider-Man. Below: Spider-Man gives all the party guests Spidey tattoos.

Last weekend my son, Brock, turned four. He’d been looking forward to his “big boy” birthday for weeks, after I’d told him we could do whatever he wanted for his party. He was elated even though he didn’t understand what waiting until May 18th meant when it was the middle of January. But what the heck, I thought, he’ll be starting JK this upcoming September so I figured this would be the last “big” party we’d have with a million kids running around the house. (Ya, right!)
 
So what would we do? Brock said he wanted to have a “Halloween Party” for his birthday (which I thought was so cute because he really meant a costume party). But more specifically, he wanted everyone to wear a superhero costume, and of course, my son wanted so badly to be his absolute favourite: Spider-Man.
 
Sure no problem! Mom to the rescue…
 
Despite my husband and I deciding that we wouldn’t go overboard with expenses for the party “this time” (that was why we originally decided to stick it out on the home front for the festivities instead of paying a bundle at a kids’ play place) we ended up still inviting 15 little ones and their parents to come out to our farm for some superhero fun. Even I got dressed up in my Super Girl outfit — woo hoo!
 
Everything was set: party favours, games, loot bags (I found some great little superhero piggy banks and hand-wrapped them in cello), food, juice boxes, balloons, chairs, tables, and of course, the perfect Spider-Man cake. But how the heck was I going to entertain all the kids for two hours while their parents all stood around and watched? After all, we live in the country and it’s too far for them to drop off the kids and drive back, so we’d have an audience (plus most of them are too young to be left at a party on their own just yet — I mean the kids, not the adults).
 
Sure, I could enlist my eight-year-old to run after the three and four-year-olds and orchestrate a mini scavenger hunt and play musical chairs (which we did do). Or I could garner some help from a “real-life” Spider-Man. Yes, that was it! I’d hire some help.
 
After searching the web for local companies that rented out superheroes, princesses, pirates, clowns and magicians, I found our Spider-Man. He was a martial artist who could do crazy back flips and would entertain the kids for an hour — perfect! I wanted him to be realistic and memorable for the kids (and worth the money I was paying, of course). I booked him. My son had no idea I actually hired a stunt man Spider-Man to come to the party (and neither did my husband) so everyone was in for a surprise.
 
Blessed with beautiful sunny weather, the kids all arrived in their costumes — everything from Spider-Man to Wonder Woman, Transformers to The Incredible Hulk, Superman to Batgirl, and even a couple of Tinker Bells. After some quick games and arranging of the gifts, Spider-Man made his way to the backyard where the kids all stared in awe. And guess what? The only one out of the bunch who was scared was my little Brock. Hey, it’s his birthday and he’ll cry if he wants to, right?
 

Spider-Man spent an hour telling the kids his backstory about fighting crime and how, as Peter Parker, the student, he makes sure to do well in school and respect his elders. (Brownie points from the parents for Spidey.) But Brock still wasn’t 100 percent sure of this guy in the red suit who looked exactly like his hero from his favourite movie. He just couldn’t fathom that Spider-Man actually came to his party. But after about almost 40 minutes of playing “Spidey Says”, storytelling, arm wresting the kids, taking keepsake pictures, and superhero tattoos, my little Spider-Man started to warm up to his hero. And figures, by the end of the party, he didn’t want him to leave. Yeeeessss! Super Mom saved the day — and I didn’t feel one bit guilty.

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