Ryan Sherwood has read comic books his whole life and has written two novels in the magical realism genre, but Wednesday was the first time he actually got to be a superhero.
Sherwood and 565 other Sears Holdings Corp. employees dressed as Superman on Wednesday, determined to break the world record for most people dressed as the Man of Steel in the same place. The old record was 437 people, held by Nexen Inc. in Calgary, Alberta.
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But when Sherwood saw an email from Sears about a week and a half ago asking employees to dress up as Superman, he said his participation was mainly about helping the company make it into the Guinness World Records.
At 11:30 a.m., the 566 Supermen and Superwomen gathered in the main atrium of the company's Hoffman Estates headquarters.
"We brought together two iconic American brands: Sears and Superman," company spokesman Brian Hanover said.
To qualify, each costume had to feature red boots, a blue bodysuit, a yellow belt, the signature Superman "S" and a red cape, said Philip Robertson, Guinness World Records adjudicator, who came to the event.
Each Sears Holdings participant was dressed in the same one-piece cloth suit, red cape and red boots in order to meet the guidelines. The costumes were supplied by Sears, employees said.
Each Superman had to check in so Robertson and Sears moderators could get the correct count. The group had to stand in place for five minutes for verification before being awarded the Guinness World Records certificate.
Nancy Beyer, another Sears employee, said she's a Superman fan but thought the gathering would be fun for anyone -- superhero lover or not.
"This is definitely one off the bucket list," said Beyer, category manager of IT procurement at Sears.
This event was a tie-in to "Man of Steel," the newest Superman movie coming out June 14. Sears is featured in the film, Hanover said.
"In the film, Superman catches a locomotive and is thrown into a Sears store," Hanover said. "And Superman's Earth mom, Martha Kent, works at Sears."
The cape-clad and blue-suited participants said the gathering was successful, but Sherwood had one complaint as he pointed out sides of his costume.
"It was pretty fun, except Superman really needs pockets for his cellphone."