- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - It wasn’t the sort of epic battle destined to become the stuff of comic book legend.

But after a little pushing and shoving between Batgirl and Robin, it was Batgirl who got to ride home from the park in the Batmobile.

And why not?

“It’s her birthday,” the Batman of Burlington told a dejected Robin.

As a moment in the life of a Burlington family that has spent this winter and spring enjoying their new, dressed up Polaris Slingshot and some on-the-road cosplay, the moment could have been better only had Robin grumbled something like, “Holy unfair, Batman,” instead of protesting he didn’t get a ride on his own birthday.

“It was too cold on your birthday,” Batman replied.

The brief struggle for the passenger seat unfolded recently at Crapo Park, where the Edmunds family - Tristan and Andrea, and their children, Brayden, 12; Kailey, 9; Braxtyn, 3; and Pyper, 7 months - had come to have their pictures taken.

No photography was permitted in or near the Batcave.

Understandable.

It’s all part of the fun, really.

And fun is what the Edmunds family is having.

They had the Slingshot tricked out with a vinyl skin to look like the Batmobile from the 1960s TV series, “Batman,” and a horn that plays the theme music from that show at the touch of a button, The Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/2qFIlQt ) reported. Riding in costume, the family shares its adventures on a Facebook page and enjoys the mix of waves, pointed fingers, thumbs up, shouts of “I love you, Batman!” and bemused looks from passersby on the street.

“It started out as a fun little thing for us and our kids, and it’s blown up,” Andrea said. “We didn’t think we’d be Burlington-famous.”

The fun began with the February purchase of a Slingshot at a dealership in Ottumwa, and the observation by eldest-child Brayden it looked like the Batmobile. Even without the shiny black skin, red stripes and bat logos, the three-wheeler bore a striking resemblance to the iconic comic book car, albeit the version driven by Christian Bale in the more recent “Dark Knight” trilogy.

Tristan, 34, and Andrea, 33, who have been married a week shy of 12 years, each work at Siemens in Fort Madison - him in the paint department, her in fabrication. They describe themselves as an average family. Their evolution into a family of super heroes began when Braxtyn started going around the house, saying “I’m Batman,” in a boyhood approximation of the raspy voice adopted by the Caped Crusader in recent film portrayals.

“I started doing it back at him,” Tristan said.

Then, after being introduced to them at work, Andrea showed him a popular series of Batdad videos, which are collected on a Facebook page with more than 5.7 million followers.

That might have been it, but an early morning motorcycle crash last August set the family on a course to having alter egos.

Andrea still was at home with the children when the phone rang. Tristan, who had been on his way to work, was just a couple of blocks from home when a pair of dogs ran in front of him in the street, causing him to crash. He broke his left wrist, was pretty scuffed up, he had to take eight weeks off of work, and the motorcycle, a 2008 Suzuki Boulevard M109R - which suffered a bent fork - was totaled.

It took a while, but finally last winter, time came to purchase a replacement, and on the list was the Polaris Slingshot.

On a nice day in February, the couple drove to Ottumwa to RJ Performance, a motorcycle and power sports dealer that also sells Slingshots. They looked, and they thought, and after deciding the previous-year model was in their price range, Tristan drove one home that day.

The Slingshot isn’t a motorcycle at all. Nor, despite its three wheels, is it a traditional trike. There are two wheels in the front and one in the back, and seating is side-by-side. With its greater stability, bucket seats, seat belts and other features, it was safer than a motorcycle. With its steering wheel, it is more like a car, meaning it would be easier on Tristan’s arms and wrists.

As an added bonus, Andrea could drive it. In Iowa and Illinois (but not Missouri), the Slingshot is classified as an auto-cycle, meaning a motorcycle license isn’t necessary. And it would be easier to take the children for rides.

Plus, it just looks cool.

“You drive into town in that, everybody’s staring,” Tristan said.

In that stare-inducing appearance, the legend of the Batman of Burlington was born.

“‘Hey, that looks like the Batmobile,’” Tristan said Brayden declared, just as soon as he arrived home in the new ride

Already having a Batman mask in the house helped cement things. Again, Brayden would play a role, handing his father the mask before their first ride, with the admonition, “‘Here, don’t forget this,’?” Tristan recalled.

“The first time I wore the mask,” he said, “I felt like the next time I went out, I had to wear the mask.”

Other members of the family soon would add masks and costumes, too. Andrea became Wonder Woman.

“I was going to be Catwoman,” she said.

But with four children, a full-time job and part-time school (she recently graduated from Southeastern Community College, and will add a full-time schedule at Iowa Wesleyan University soon), Wonder Woman felt more apt. Plus, the customization of the Slingshot features a graphic showing Batman and Wonder Woman in love, along with the date of their wedding.

Brayden’s alter ego meanwhile would be Robin, naturally.

“You have to have a sidekick,” he said. Kailey’s would be Batgirl and Braxtyn’s Batboy, while baby Pyper, in Wonder Woman tiara from a fast food children’s meal box, is Wonder Girl.

Before long, people in the Burlington area started posting photos on Facebook, describing Batman sightings around the city. So the family started a Facebook page, Batman of Burlington, as a place for people to share their pictures, to tell of their adventures themselves and to post Batman-related memes.

Riding in their Batmobile does generate quite a bit of attention, meaning Andrea prefers to go cruising, rather than taking it out to run errands, with all the stops and starts that involves. Brayden, meanwhile, is game to don his Robin mask and costume and hit the road any time, for any reason. And the sixth-grader loves being picked up in it outside his school in West Burlington.

“That’s fun,” Tristan said.

In a family of six, going for a cruise with just two is a nice respite from a hectic home life. Especially when it’s some combination of parent and child.

“It’s definitely good one-on-one time,” Andrea said. Seldom will Batman or Wonder Woman be seen alone in the Batmobile, unless it is in transit to pick up Robin or Batgirl. There is couple’s time, too, though.

And the legend continues to grow. Tristan has fielded requests to appear at birthday parties, and has a custom-fitted Batman costume, from the “Batman Beyond” animated TV series, on order. With the 1960s-style Batmobile, he will be mixing eras. That’s OK with Tristan.

“It’s what I like of Batman,” he said.

Summer overtime for Tristan and a move to second shift at month’s end for Andrea will make finding time to ride harder.

But they have no intention of giving it up, or abandoning their alter egos, anytime soon.

“As long as the kids want to have fun with it,” Tristan said, “we’ll have fun with it.”

Unless, that is, the Batman’s arch nemesis, the Joker, and his lady love, Harley Quinn, should someday sneak into the Batcave and make off with the Batmobile.

Tristan and Andrea have those costumes, too.

___

Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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