Little Beans Cafe took their show on the road to the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) April 25, providing superhero training to kids of all ages. Arriving with large foam blocks, staff built up structures with a specific purpose – so kids could take turns smashing.
Once the initial structure was built, sure enough, children arrived to knock it down. “Robin!” one child shouted, “I knocked it down!” Staff was all costumed, including a friend of Little Beans manager who dressed as Batman’s sidekick, Robin.
“I am super, super, super, super, super fast and named the Flash!” another child shouted as he raced around a room that ordinarily serves as a breakout session space for McCormick Place conventions.
Robin asked another child dressed in an Iron Man outfit, “Did the superhero save everyone from the fire?”
“Yeah!” exclaimed the child, in his best Robert Downey, Jr. impression.
With about 15 kids playing as their oft-costumed parents lingering to the side, occasional existential quandaries erupted. “My name is Robin,” said one of the five Little Beans staff on hand.
“Like him” asked a girl dressed as a Princess of Power, pointing to the costumed Robin.
“But my name is really not Robin,” he said, shaking his head.
“What?” said the Princess, eyes saucered.
“I know!” shouted Robin, arms outstretched.
Later, when a girl dressed as a cat swatted down a block structure, Robin praised the child’s technique. “All right, Catwoman!” she said.
“It’s not Catwoman,” the child corrected him. “Just Kitty.”
The group play lasted almost an hour. As the last child left the room, holding hands with parents dressed as the Punisher and Poison Ivy, he shouted back at Little Beans staff, “Have a nice super job!”
Little Beans opened in Evanston in early 2015 and offers play space for kids of all ages up to 12. Another Little Beans in Lakeview Chicago offers play space for 0-5-year-old toddlers.
Lakeview manager Vanessa said C2E2 invited Little Beans to do a presentation and, being a huge geek, she “flipped out.” She invites friends to join the fun. C2E2 fits in with a Little Beans focus on imaginative play, she said. Little Beans plans to have a presence at C2E2 as long as possible.