Friday, November 02, 2007

Truth, Justice and the St. Cloud Way

Last year I wrote these stories about a man here in St. Cloud who stands on the street corner every weekend next to an American flag while wearing a Superman outfit.

Over the years this guy has taken his share of lumps by the locals who have lambasted him in the newspaper by accusing him of being "strange" and "mentally ill" among other things. Nonetheless he persists - and every week he can still be found firmly planted in front of the Dairy Queen or the university for no other reason than to simply be seen. He doesn't carry a sign, shout a message or make a move. He just stands there with his hands on his hips and looks straight ahead with his chin held high as if to say "I'm here... you know what I represent."

But finally the other day he was vindicated. Finally, for the first time in the many many years he has been carrying Superman's torch, our very own Justice Leaguer himself received a different kind of press in the paper. The kind of press you would expect from Superman.

Here is his story...


Bird? Plane? Or real-life local hero?
By Kari Petrie, kpetrie@stcloudtimes.com

Published: October 27. 2007 12:30AM

St. Cloud police are recognizing the city's superhero for saving the life of a man who tried to commit suicide.

John Fillah, known around town as Superman, stopped a man from jumping off Veterans Bridge on Oct. 13. Now he is getting a letter of appreciation from the police department for that action.

"Without (Fillah's) efforts, that man may have died," Police Chief Dennis Ballantine said.

Fillah is known for dressing with a red cape and standing on city street corners. He also has a tattoo in tribute to his idol.

It seems that his habit for dressing in costume may have helped save the man's life. Fillah said he was standing along Fifth Avenue in downtown late Oct. 13 when a man approached him.

Although not dressed in character, the man recognized Fillah as St. Cloud's Superman. The man started telling Fillah that he was down on his luck with no place to live and he felt he had no future, Fillah said.

"He recognized me," Fillah said. "Had I not been doing the Superman thing, he wouldn't have had anyone to talk to."

The man told Fillah that he wanted to kill himself.

"I know what depression is like and I know what it feels like and I know you shouldn't take things like this lightly," Fillah said.

The man began to walk away and Fillah followed him to make sure he was all right. But the man started yelling at Fillah to go away and ran faster. When the man approached the bridge, Fillah called police.

"I thought I should be prepared," he said.

The man crawled over the bridge railing and Fillah grabbed hold of him, preventing him from jumping. Fillah said the man fought with him and tried to pull away, but he kept hanging on.

"It was a really traumatic thing for me to go through," he said. "I realized that this guy's life was in my hands."

At one point, Fillah said, he was concerned that he would lose his grip, but a passer-by came to help him. Eventually police arrived and were able to pull the man over and get him help.

Fillah said it was easy to decide to follow the man and help him. He said he dresses as Superman to watch over the community and to stand up for what's right.

"I believe in what Superman represents — truth, justice and the American way," he said.

He remains humble in his actions and thanks the passers-by who also helped and the St. Cloud Police Department.

"I don't think I did anything that extraordinary. Many Americans would have done the same," he said.

Many officers have stopped Fillah and thanked him for his effort. Ballantine said the letter of appreciation would be hand-delivered to Fillah.

"We can usually find him when we need to," he said.


I know, you wish you had a Superman in your town too - but don't even think about asking us for ours. It's taken a while, but we've finally gotten used to him.

And now we'd like to keep him.

24 comments:

Dan said...

That is a wonderful story. Beautiful even.

Kathy said...

Fantastic story! Incredible! When you read stuff like that, you just know it was fate.

QZ~Ba Doozie said...

ummmm...if he is watching over the community and that is the first action he's seen, maybe he should move his act to downtown LA or somewhere a little more accident prone? I"m just sayin...if he's going to stand there he might as well make himself useful

Elizabeth said...

What a great story! And you're right, I do wish we had a Superman in our town! All we have is a highschooler who carries a "Bong Hits for Jesus" banner. Superman is much cooler!

Leo Pusateri said...

Good on you, Superman!

rick said...

"GA-ZOINKS!!!"

Heather said...

I bet that helped Superman too. Now he really IS a superhero.

Mooselet said...

That's really cool. Thanks Superman!

Julie Pippert said...

This is a fantastic story...the exact heart-warming I needed!

Julie
Using My Words

Zhu said...

What a crazy story! It's actually quite fantastic I mean, but this guy standing here all day long dressed as Superman...

Now see, that's exactly why the rest of the world doesn't understand the USA ! :D

Mom Thumb said...

So, what seems like a nut job turns out to be a real life hero. I think our town needs one of those!

Jennine said...

What a great story, Jeff. Thanks for sharing it.

Gary said...

Oh I wish we had a Superman, when I was a kid we used to have a cowboy who hung out around the local shopping area complete with horse when the coalman didn't need it, but all he ever did was frighten people with his guns and bullwhip - Superman would have sorted him out.

Avery Gray said...

We don't need a Superman. We have an Invisible Man. And he saves people all the time. Only they don't know it. Because he's invisible. Also, kind of a jerk.

VE said...

Hey, just for fun you should go stand across the street for awhile dressed as Lex Luthur and see what happens.

Bill said...

I am glad Superman did not have to go over the railing to save the man on his way down.

andi said...

What a great story. We only have the Push-Up Man (he does push-ups in public - oh, how I wish I were joking...), the Raging Grannies (they do political protests), and a guy I call Spandex Man. He wears the shorts year round and looks crazy. Which he is considering how cold Alberta winters are...

Carla said...

I never pictured the S man as the strong silent type, but good on him!

Catherine said...

I love LOVE the last line of that story, just the perfect icing on the cake. Beautiful, thanks for sharing that.

By the way, I'm Catherine, and I came to visit you because I loved your comment on Dave 2s latest post - totally made me laugh, very clever!

Whit said...

That's pretty cool. We have a guy dressed as Superman here too, and pretty much every other character you can think of. They just hang out in front of Mann's and pose for money. I can't imagine they would save anyone.

Jeff said...

catherine - Hey, thanks for stopping by!

The police chief was right of course. The guy is VERY easy to find.

wayabetty said...

THAT is great! I'm sure Christopher Reeve is smiling at him from up above!!

The Holmes said...

That's very cool. We don't have anybody dressed as a superhero here in Austin, but we have our share of local, um, celebrities. Good to have in any township, it just makes life a little more interesting.

JOHN said...

The guy is a jerk see his rap sheet on the county web site " stearns county in minnesota