“My District” gives NCSL members a chance to talk about life in the places they represent, from high-profile events to the fun facts only locals know.
Welcome to Metropolis, Ill., recognized in 1972 by DC Comics as the hometown of the legendary Superman. Located in the state’s southern tip, about 230 miles southeast of the capital Springfield, this town of 6,500 takes its superhero status seriously.
Although a multimillion dollar, 1,000-acre amusement park never materialized, the Superman Celebration every June attracts thousands of diehard fans of the Man of Steel and DC Comics. The event features actors and writers from the many Superman movies and television series and centers on a 15-foot-tall statue of Superman, a roughly 6-foot replica of “girl reporter” Lois Lane and the expansive Super Museum.
We caught up with Sen. Dale Fowler (R) and Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R), who represent Metropolis, to ask about the importance of the world’s greatest superhero to their districts.
You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me. —Superman
Have you ever been to the Superman Celebration? What’s it like?
Fowler: I have attended numerous Superman festivals. It is an amazing event that draws thousands of tourists from several states each year. It brings great excitement to the area as people honor one of the most famous superheroes in American history.
Windhorst: My family attends the Superman Celebration every year. It’s a community festival that brings in thousands from all over the United States and around the world, including celebrities who have appeared in Superman movies and television shows. In addition to the celebrities, there is a real-life Superman, many Superman-themed events, vendors and carnival rides. The weekend is a lot of fun for the whole family. I attended as a child and have taken my own children every year to enjoy the festivities and have their picture taken at the Superman statue.
What does it mean to you and your district to be home to the most powerful yet magnanimous superhero?
Fowler: Superman is one of the most recognizable superheroes ever. Tourists not only visit the city of Metropolis during the Superman festival but throughout the entire year, providing a great economic boost to the city and the southern Illinois region as a whole. Along with the famous giant Superman statue, there is also a museum for enthusiasts to enjoy.
Windhorst: Prior to my election as a state representative, I served as county prosecutor, and my office in the courthouse overlooked the center of our town with its 15-foot statue of Superman. The base of the statue reads, “Truth — Justice — The American Way.” The values supported by Superman and expressed in his motto provide a good foundation for anyone, particularly a public official, and those are to stand for the truth, for what is right and for the ideals of our country found in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
What else is great about your district? What other places should people visit?
Fowler: When people ask about the 59th District, there is no better way to describe it other than God’s country. My district is home to 15 state parks, which is more than any other district in the entire state. We are also very fortunate to have the Shawnee National Forest, which spans over 289,000 acres and lies between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Tourism is a tremendous asset and economic driver in my district, and we continue to see more people visit the region every year. I encourage people from all across the country and all walks of life to plan their next trip to southern Illinois, but before you do, you can see what the region has to offer through my Southern Illinois Treasures video series.
Windhorst: (District 118) includes all or parts of 11 counties in southernmost Illinois. The district is one of the few in Illinois with rolling hills and forests. The area is great for hiking, hunting, fishing and camping. It includes most of the Shawnee National Forest and has numerous state parks. Some of the popular areas include the Garden of the Gods, Giant City State Park, Cave-in-Rock State Park and Dixon Springs State Park, to name just a few. In Metropolis, we have Fort Massac State Park, which hosts the Fort Massac Encampment with a reenactment of 18th-century life at the fort in October each year.
Ben Mathios is a former NCSL Communications Division intern.