Batmobile to appear in Cd'A parade

Batmobile to appear in Cd'A parade

COEUR d'ALENE - Its first stop is Coeur d'Alene.

That's not counting the gas stations between here and British Columbia, Canada, where Lenny B. Robinson had to stop his brand-new Batmobile on the drive over.

That's right, Batmobile, like in the movies - the recent ones, where props and costumes are otherworldly.

Imagine that car, built by a Canadian familiar with the movie industry, at a roadside station somewhere in Washington off Interstate 5 on its way to the Lake City.

Well, that's exactly what happened Monday.

"Everybody from everywhere is stopping to look at the car," said Robinson, who has played Batman for hospitalized children over the last decade and recently added to his persona by purchasing a head-turning, state-of-the-movie Batmobile that's pulling into Coeur d'Alene today. "It's a work of art I'm proud to drive."

Thanks to the persistence of Coeur d'Alene's Liz Williams - a childhood advocate through Childhood Resource and CCC volunteer - as well as a team of community-minded supporters, Robinson will cruise down Sherman Avenue as part of the Fourth of July parade.

"It's been miraculous," Williams said of reeling in Robinson, which took six months of effort. "We're going to make this happen."

The back story is this: Robinson has been playing Batman in a $5,000 neoprene and leather Batsuit, which he had custom made from a professional costume maker, for 10 years.

He began visiting sick children in the Baltimore area, where he's from, back in 2001 with his now teenage son who used to accompany him as Robin, signing autographs and handing out Bat toys.

The wealthy philanthropist had created a cleaning company which he sold in 2007. But it was when he first visited a hospital did he realize what his true calling was, he said, and why he formed the nonprofit, Superheroes For Kids, dedicated to his charity work.

"When I realized what I was doing," he said of the reaction from sick children during his first hospital visit in full movie uniform, "it sent me to another dimension in my life."

And what Robinson used to drive as his Batmobile was his $225,000 black Lamborghini.

Actually, there's a funny clip of law enforcement officers pulling Robinson over because his license plate was only the bat symbol. That clip, taken from the officer's dashboard camera, went viral. (He didn't get a ticket.)

But the goal was always to up the persona, and Robinson found someone to build him a legit Batmobile in British Columbia. After years of planning, he picked it up days ago. He's driving it back to the East Coast - complete with stares from fellow motorists and gas station patrons - stopping at children's hospitals across the country.

One of his stops is Coeur d'Alene's parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Robinson will take his crime fighting get-up to City Park after the parade to pose for $10 pictures to benefit the Children's Village. He also wants to visit Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Robinson said he's excited for his first visit to Coeur d'Alene. It's one of the first stops on his cross-country tour, from west to east, which will prove to be a big task.

But any other alternative is out of the question.

"My weakness, is I hate to say no," Robinson said. "It brings so much joy to the kids."

Holiday happenings

• Coeur d'Alene: Parade at 11 a.m. on Sherman Avenue, followed by festivities in City Park and a fireworks show at 10 p.m.

• Bayview Daze: "Red, White and Blue Pancake Feast" from 8:30-11 a.m. at Bayview Community Center. Cost is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children, with proceeds going to the Bayview fireworks fund.

• Fireworks at Kellogg, Teeters Field, dusk, July 4.

• Harrison summer concert: 4 to 8 p.m. in Harrison City Park. A fireworks show will follow.

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