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Transforming San Francisco into Gotham on Nov. 15 to help fulfill a 5-year-old leukemia patient’s wish to be Batman cost the city $105,000 — but none of that will come from the pockets of taxpayers.
The celebration, which saw Miles “Batkid” Scott accompany Batman as they apprehended the Penguin and the Riddler, drew crowds estimated at 14,500 — far more than the few hundred anticipated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation — and garnered international media attention. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bill will be paid from the fees charged to conventions that use the Moscone Center. Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area is also reportedly seeking private donations to help reimburse the city.
Most of the money was eaten up by the last-minute rental of a sound systems, video screens and other equipment when the crowd gathered at City Hall to watch Mayor Ed Lee present Miles with a chocolate key to the city proved too large.
“What started out as a few hundred people at most on the steps of City Hall … grew into what would obviously attract a 20,000-plus crowd,” Christine Falvey, the mayor’s communications director, told The Associated Press. “They weren’t going to see anything the way we originally had it set up.”
No additional costs were racked up by the police or public works departments, which staffed the event with personnel working their regular shifts.
While the Batkid celebration was the feel-good story of last week, with warm wishes pouring in from everyone from the cast of Arrow to President Obama, it did have its critics — most notably San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who on the day of the event tweeted, “Wondering how many 1000s of SF kids living off SNAP/FoodStamps could have been fed from the $$.”
The backlash — or is it bat-lash — sent Mar reeling, and he quickly issued a press release clarifying, “I simply wanted to urge that we, as a city, find similar amounts of love, compassion and empathy for children living every day in dire circumstances who, in the vast majority of cases, will not be supported or even recognized by our society.”
Although he and his family are said to be overwhelmed by all of the media attention, Miles is otherwise doing well: His leukemia is in remission, and he had his final chemotherapy treatment over the summer.