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Superheroes abound at INK: Kids learn while taking part in costume contest
Vinny Marshall, 7, takes the oath of conservation from Captain Conservation on Sunday afternoon at INK.

Nearly 100 people attended Sunday’s Community Superhero Extravaganza to celebrate local citizens as heroes and see children compete in a superhero costume contest.

The community superhero event was held at the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK) and sponsored by Gainesville.

Gainesville City Council members Robert Hamrick and George Wangemann attended the event, along with local heroes from the Gainesville police and fire departments, who served lunch and gave tours of a fire truck.

Captain Conservation of Public Utilities was host of the superhero costume contest.

Captain Conservation not only taught the kids about water conservation, he had them take an oath, swearing to save water and encourage others to do the same.

"Our community learns best through our kids when they go home and talk about what they learned with their family," said Sheri Hooper, director of INK.

Hooper said that each child at the event was educated on where water comes from and how to best conserve it.

Winners of the costume contest received a superhero-themed prize, and all contestants received a coloring book, a cupcake and were featured in a group photo with Captain Conservation.

One of the contestants, Ben Wiley, dressed up as Spider-Man for the competition. Although he did not win, Wiley said he had fun on the fire truck and dressing up as his favorite superhero.

The idea for a superhero day at INK came from the superhero-themed 2008 calendar released by the Gainesville. The city calendar celebrates local heroes, including workers at the Georgia Mountains Center and Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

"Superheroes are all around us. You don’t have to fly or have super powers. The power is within you," said Catiel Felts, public information officer for Gainesville.

Felts helped plan the event with Gainesville as a way of celebrating everyday citizens as local heroes.

The event Sunday was the first superhero theme held by INK and Gainesville.

Felts and Hooper both said that they would like to see the superhero day continue and become an annual event.

The next community event to be held at INK will be at noon May 15 when the nonprofit premieres its 2,000-square-foot child, Buddy.

Buddy is an interactive display that will educate children on proper nutrition and how to "create a positive body," Hooper said.