- Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Four-year-old Mason Mueller stood with his hand on a window at Palms West Hospital on Halloween, his white socks sliding just slightly as he stood on his tiptoes and craned his neck to get a better look at a person sliding down two cables on the hospital’s north face.
Then, there he was: Batman, dangling against the building, waving to Mason and other children. Soon Batman was joined by Spider-Man, as Superman rappelled to a nearby window.
The trio of window-washers is part of a yearly tradition at Palms West in Loxahatchee, where they help children admitted to the hospital celebrate Halloween as part of a two-hour extravaganza that includes a parade, trick-or-treating and a meet-and-greet with first responders.
Hira Kashif, of Wellington, held her 6-month-old daughter, Iman, as the window-washers waved and then slowly dropped out of sight. Wearing a plastic tiara with pink jewels and a pink Supergirl cape, Iman took in the proceedings with an occasional smile or raised eyebrow. Kashif said it was her daughter’s 10th day at Palms West, where Iman is being treated for a bacterial infection.
“The other day I took my son to get his costume, and I just cried because there were all these other babies there getting their costumes,” Kashif said. “You know, it’s her first Halloween. It’s not a great situation, but this helps. It really does.”
Palms West Director of Environmental Services Michael Pace organizes the window-washing and said this is the fourth year the crew, from Miami-based Cliffhanger, has donned costumes to brighten Halloween for ill children.
“When you see the kids’ faces when they come to the windows, it’s just remarkable,” Pace said. He noted that one year, a father began to cry as the superheroes rappelled past his child’s window. “It really hit him. It was just so cool.”
As the crew — Luis Estrada as Batman, Lazaro Gonzalez as Spider-Man and Emilio Suarez as Superman — began their first descent, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies watched with amusement from the hospital’s parking lot. “Why is Spider-Man crawling all over the hospital?” one yelled. Another replied, “This is unacceptable.”
In the second-floor pediatric care ward, Crystal Reynolds and her 10-year-old son, Gavin, eagerly awaited the heroes’ arrival. Gavin was admitted to Palms West on Friday after a dog bite became infected. Dressed in an Assassin’s Creed costume, Gavin stared up through a window hoping to catch a glimpse of a superhero. “Is he coming?” a nurse asked. “Sooner or later,” Gavin replied, shrugging, to the laughter of the adults behind him.
“It’s really overwhelming. It is,” Reynolds said. “In a really good way.”