Call them the kings of Queens. For Father’s Day this year, the most props for pops came from a single borough.
Then again, kids from all around the metro area wrote in to praise their dads, stepfathers, grandfathers and older brothers for being the leading men in their lives. How? By supporting them, whether by working long hours, coaching their softball teams — or simply finding ways to make them smile.
Let their heartfelt essays inspire you to thank the main men in your life this Father’s Day.
My dad always makes me feel happy and cares about me all the time. I love calling my dad after school every day to tell him about my day and see when he is coming home to be with me. My dad knows everything about sports and teaches me how to play and be a good athlete. He makes me feel very warm and cuddly when we hold hands and take walks together. The best thing of all is that he is my best friend and always makes me feel special. He rocks!
— Ethan Irushalmi, 7, Manhattan
He keeps us happy
Don’t laugh: When I was much younger, I thought my dad was a superhero. In between walking me to school, driving me to doctors’ appointments and helping me with my homework, he would keep the city safe and make sure all the bad guys were behaving.
The other day my brother, Tommy, told me Dad is most like my lawyer. He’s there to defend me, advise me — and whenever I get a timeout, he gets me less time.
I’ve taken a good look at Dad and realized I was never far from the truth. He’s an ex-Vietnam soldier, a retired police officer, an assistant Little League baseball coach and a volunteer tutor. He’s the first one up in the morning, fixing, repairing, shoveling, raking, hammering, shopping, picking up and dropping off . . . and the last to sit down to eat and go to bed.
Dad is my superhero. I appreciate all he does to keep us happy and safe, and I love him with all my heart.
— Carlie Camarda, 10, Brooklyn
A tall order
My dad is the greatest of all. Even though he is but 5-foot-2, to me he is the biggest man ever. He encourages me and makes me feel good about myself, and he asks for nothing in return. He gives a lot of his time to help the needy. He’s a baseball coach and a Red Cross volunteer.
He tries hard to be an active father at the age of 69.
I know that I am not going to be tall when I get older, but I hope to be just like my father. He should be president of the United States. I know that everyone will say that he is the greatest.
— Gerry Bloomfield, 13, Riverdale, The Bronx
My amazing stepdad
This Father’s Day I will be giving thanks to my amazing stepdad, the closest thing to a father that I have had. Last summer, I was in a gifted and challenging program that prepares you for high school. Every night I would stay up past midnight, and he would always be there. He would answer my questions about geometry and help me decode Socrates and Plato. He was always there and I will always be grateful for his love and dedication.
— Annie Medina, 14, Queens
Eyes on the stars
My daddy is the best because he reads me bedtime stories. He teaches me all about the stars and takes me outside to see them. He comes to all my soccer and softball games. We bake chocolate-chip cookies together. We always have so much fun together. He is the best, and I love him.
— Jillian Schneider, 6, Queens
He missed that soccer game. He took my cellphone for that B grade I got. He gave me a curfew on that night I wanted to stay out late. But you know what? When he missed that game, I played harder and better. When he took my phone away, I came home with A’s. When he gave me that curfew, I stayed out of trouble.
Every lesson I learn, every decision I make — everything I know — I owe to my dad. He may love country music and cheap red wine, but he loves his three favorite girls more than anything. That’s all that matters to me.
— Leah Curran, 19, Willow Grove, Pa.
In sickness and in health
I know that my dad loves me because one time I got really sick and had to go to the hospital. He was so worried that he carried me down from the sixth floor to the first. Even though I was drowsy, I saw that his hands were shaking. I just want to thank him for the best care he has given me my whole life.
— Ying Wen Liu, 11, Manhattan
From Haiti with love
I’m Haitian, and I used to visit Queens each summer to see my relatives. Things changed after the devastating earthquake. He made sure I got to New York. We took a bus and then a plane from our home in Haiti. It was difficult for my dad, but he raised the money so I could live here.
My dad is helpful in his community. He takes our neighbors shopping when they have difficulty getting to the store. He is heroic, funny and fantastic. He sacrificed everything for me so I could come to New York.
— Rhandal Remonvil, 9, Queens
He’s our MVP!
Our dad, Kenny Albert, is the most fabulous father on Earth! He helps with homework, chaperones class trips and doesn’t miss a school play (he stands in the back with his camcorder)! He helps coach both our softball teams, sometimes two games the same night. He drives us to school every morning he is home, even after getting home from a road trip at 2 a.m. If he works late and misses bedtime, he leaves the game notes or scorecard. Just a little something to let us know he was thinking about us. He always makes us feel special — that’s why he’s our MVP!
— Sydney and Amanda Albert, 7 and 10 ½, Closter, NJ
A man of many talents
My dad is a wonderful and kind person. His knowledge of computers is amazing. He knows whether a program should be done in Flash or CS5, and his art is like looking back at Renaissance artists. When he strums his guitar, I feel like I’m at some kind of wonderful, every-genre guitarist concert. When I’ve been feeling down, his sense of humor has cheered me up. If his jokes fail, he’s always found other ways to make me smile.
— Mitchell Winter, 12, Manhattan
‘Every day is Father’s Day’
Sometimes, we might not get along. But the one thing my younger siblings and I all agree on is that our dad is the COOLEST! Even though our love for him is the same, the reasons we love him are all very different.
Jacob, my youngest brother, loves to hit baseballs at 7 a.m. with Dad, who never says no, even though he is half asleep.
Zoe, my younger sister, can’t get enough of playing Cash Cab with Dad before she goes to bed. He even makes the lights flicker like she’s in the real cab.
Zachary, who is a year younger that me, just won his Little League championship. Dad was at every game and practice as his No. 1 fan. Without Dad’s support and cheers, I doubt he would have won.
As I struggled with my math grade all school year, my dad has been the best “tutor” ever. Because of his hard work and dedication, I was able to achieve my goal of getting an A in math.
Every day in our house is Father’s Day! — Jordan Albom, 11, Freehold, NJ
My brother Anthony is 24 years old. He’s hardworking, talented and a great brother. He has done so much for me, and I appreciate him for all he does.
He introduced me to the show “Lost” and watched every single episode with me. He helps me with my homework when he’s home, and stops whatever he is doing. He cheers me up when I’m feeling down. He gives me advice, and pushes me to do my hardest and makes me want to be a better person. He has a very big heart.
— Lucy Ferreira, 14, Queens
The man I miss
My dad spoiled me rotten since the day I was born. He gave me everything I asked for, always made me laugh and gave me the biggest hugs of all time .¤.¤. Now he’s gone up in heaven with God. I know he’s never coming back, but I can’t help but wish he would. When I grow up, I want my kids to have a father just like my dad, who was exciting and fun yet knew when to tell me when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to .¤.¤. who loves them unconditionally and is always there when they need him, just like my dad was there for me.
I want them to have somebody to love and to look up to, just like I will always look up to my dad, no matter where he is.
— Thalia Martinez, 15, Manhattan
Even though he isn’t “super dad,” my dad is fun to hang out with. We have this family tradition when my dad, my aunt, my cousin and I go apple picking in late fall. We get home with at least three bags of apples and are able to make about four apple pies. By the way, that’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him make in an oven.
Another thing we do together is sports. He’s a high school basketball coach and I’m on the team at my school. He comes to all the games that he can. Next to Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, he’s the best dad.
— Jaclyn Dortch, 11, Queens
A super stepdad
My name is Taysha Tavarez. At this moment I am in fourth grade, and I will like to tell you a small story about my daddy and me.
When I was 2 years old, I lost my biological father, but the Lord gave me a new father who teaches me how to respect and love others no matter who or what they are. He likes to work very hard so I can study and go to college .¤.¤. He is a fantastic person because he treats me like his biological daughter. My brother and my sister receive the same love and affection from him. None of us is different for him.
Thank you, Daddy, for being there for me. I love you!
— Taysha Tavarez, 10, Manhattan
My biggest booster
My Dad is the best dad in the world because he always takes care of me. He makes the best food ever. He encourages me to do things that I want to do. He helps me when times are tough. For example, when I graduated the fourth grade, I had to talk about my favorite Lower School memories at graduation, and my dad helped jog my memory .¤.¤. Dad helped me with my stage fright so I could recite the JFK inaugural address in front of a big crowd, and helped me with spelling so I could successfully compete in the spelling bee. I love my dad.
— Grant Thompson, 10, Manhattan
My dad is fantastic because he always makes me smile when I am down. He loves to play “monster” with me and my sister, and we always end up giggling .¤.¤. We always read Classroom Extra together, and he makes it so much fun! Even though his dad died when he was my age, he really knows how to be the best dad in the world.
— Niko Tarasenko, 8, Brookville, NY
My dad is funny because he always makes me laugh. He goes on roller coasters with me because my mom is scared to go on them. He takes me and my brother to Disney .¤.¤. He works long hours and still makes time for us. He vacuums and cooks. He bought my mom a gorgeous diamond ring for Christmas. He is kind to all of us, and that’s why I think he is the best dad in the whole wide world.
— Taylor Khan, 7, Staten Island
The I of the Dragon
The reason why I think my dad is so great is because he helps me with whatever I need to get done. I am a child with a physical disability called hydrocephalus, which got me into a wheelchair. My dad helped me learn this computer program called Dragon speak. Without him I wouldn’t be able to do this, and I’m so glad he taught me how to use it because it really works.
For no reason whatsoever, he laughs a lot, which I find very strange. But my dad is made that way, and I love him.
— Te Cole, 14, Manhattan
Saved from drowning
Once on Cape Cod, I almost drowned in the pool at our hotel, and guess who saved me? My dad! This is why he is a hero .¤.¤. When I was little, he used to say “eeee” so I’d open my mouth. He tapped the spoon on my head and then he gave me the food. I love my dad so much!
— Hannah Cheitel, 7, White Plains, NY
One man I most admire is my grandfather. Two summers ago, I went to his house in China. He prepared a big meal for my whole family. I was glad to see him because we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. As we were eating, he talked about how small I was when he last saw me and how tall I am now.
Even though I always tell him not to buy a lot of stuff for me, he said that he wants to. It’s because I don’t go to his house often. I almost cried when I heard him say that, because I know he doesn’t usually spend his money. I didn’t want him to do that just for me. I knew he just wanted me to have a good vacation. I’m glad to have a grandfather like him.
— Queena Lin, 11, Manhattan
TV and painted toenails
My dad is super-loving, really kind, very smart, awfully nice, so sweet, gives the best hugs, watches great TV shows with me like “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” makes the best pasta, always welcomes us into his office, the most generous person you will ever meet, hysterically funny, has great friends, goes to every single school event, loves to dress up, lets me paint his toenails, gives me great advice, knows a lot about maps and makes road trips a blast.
Simply put, he is the best daddy any person in this whole world could ask for!
— Sara Solomon, 10, Manhattan
Fond of fish
My dad works hard to support my education. His work hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. six days a week. He must be very tired .¤.¤. He shares my love of planting things and to keep fish. We have a windowsill packed with terra cotta pots. He keeps a complete 10-gallon aquarium with six fish while I keep a 1.5-gallon tank with two bettas. Because of our hobbies, I feel connected to him.
— Bryant Lin, 10, Manhattan
My brother, my dad
My older brother Michael is like a father to me. He is 20 years old. He always plays with me when I’m bored. Once I asked him, “Can you play video games with me?” while he was sleeping, and he said “OK, let me get ready.”
My brother also watches sports with me like the Lakers and the Yankees. We like joking with each other about who will win. He helps me with my homework when I need it. Since he already graduated from high school, he should be able to do it.
— Matthew Cameron, 11, Manhattan
Funny, silly — cool!
I want to tell you about my dad. He is the best dad ever. My favorite thing is spending time with him. My dad goes on a lot of business trips. It’s sad when I come home from school and he is not there, but I love it when he comes back. He puts such a smile on my face and brings me gifts. My dad is the coolest, funniest, nicest and silliest dad ever. I love him!
— Russie Schreiber, 10, Cedarhurst, LI
Dear Dad, I will never forget how hard it was to ride my bike without training wheels, but with your guidance, I have become a bike master who even surpasses you. Because of you, I have learned to love biking and consider it one of my favorite pastimes. Also, you have shown and helped me enjoy the many wonderful museums of the city. Whether the Met, MoMA or the Guggenheim, it’s always a blast to share that experience with you .¤.¤. I really feel that we’re not just father and son but best friends.
— Jake Rose, 15, Manhattan
My dad, Moussa, is funny, fantastic and helpful. He loves being a taxi driver. He really likes seeing new places.
He is funny. We ride our bikes together.
He is helpful. He really wants to see a clean community, not a messy one. He picks up garbage off the street and near our home. He picks up cans and bottles and puts them in the right place.
— Amara Samoura, 11, Queens
My dad is great because he makes me laugh with his funny faces and the way he reads my books at night. He is always there for me and he looks out for me. He loves me with all his heart and he would do anything for me. We have a special relationship and he is my loving daddy.
— Nicholas Metro, 7, Massapequa, NY
He takes me to new places
I love my dad. He takes me places that some people have never been before, and makes them enjoyable. He can turn a sad mood into a happy mood. For example, when my neighbor died, he rented a comedy for my family. I don’t think I ever laughed so much in my life!
My dad takes my family on camping trips. During one of them, there was an opportunity to go horseback riding. I was very scared, but my dad encouraged me to do it. So, I tried it and loved it! If my dad didn’t encourage me to do new things, then I would never have done them.
— Melissa Davide, 11, Queens
A man of his word
From a young age, my father, Edward DeSouza, has been a man of his word. His dedication to being a working college student, to a rising employee, to a retiree, has left him a legacy that me and my siblings could only wish to achieve half of.
My dad is the reason I wake up every morning, and his fight to fight the good fight allows me to fight mine, as well. When I was younger, if you were to tell me one of my best friends would one day be my father, I would laugh in your face. Twenty-three years later of observing my father’s wisdom, knowledge and passion towards life have made me go from “I hate you, Dad” to “Dad, you are my hero.”
— Devin DeSouza, 23, Manhattan
Always an optimist
Everyone writes the same thing, “My dad helped me to do whatever.” The only thing my dad helped me with was to ride a bike. My parents divorced when I was 2, so my dad has visiting rights. He was always so busy trying to make my sisters and me happy that he never had time to teach me anything, not even baseball. I learned it all on my own.
I look up to my dad because of all the things he does. He has four kids and works from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day so he can pay child support. My dad doesn’t give up, and that’s why I look up to him. He always looks at the glass half full.
— Brendan Mackay, 14, Queens
He’s a real trooper!
Our dad is a New York State trooper. He protects the people and the town. He once broke his thumb from fighting a criminal .¤.¤ . He stays up all night long when he is working. Even though he is tired, he coaches our baseball and soccer teams. He teaches us how to play sports and takes us to baseball games.
Our dad loves us and takes care of when our Mom is at work. He is very strong and carries us when we get tired on hikes. Our dad is very funny. He always makes up songs about us and our mom to make us laugh. We are very lucky to have the best dad in the world!
— TJ and Faith Sikorski, 7 and 4, Warwick, NY
When I was 8, my dad taught me how to ride my bike. My father taught me how to make a chocolate mousse pie when I was 11. We licked the bowl when we were done.
We are both morning people. Every Sunday when I am with my dad, we buy bagels from the store. We make homemade cream cheese. We sit down together and have father-daughter time. These are the times I enjoy spending with my dad.
— Sevasti Ciardullo, 12, Queens
He makes us laugh!
My dad tells me he is also my friend, and I can count on him. He makes people laugh at my birthday parties, and he comes up with humorous games for everyone to play. We play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and break pinatas, or we play musical chairs. He makes the games fun because the adults must participate, too. He is fantastic. He takes me to the park when I am bored even though he wants to watch his favorite TV show or wants to relax after work. We play soccer in the park. He teaches me how to kick the ball, to be a good goalie, and hit the ball with my head.
He is not Superman, but he is heroic. He works seven days a week so he can buy food and the things I need. He sacrifices his rest day and takes me where I want to go.
— Rosmery Chamorro, 10, Queens
A basketball legend
Our father is the best. He always makes us laugh and have fun. He is the coolest person to play with, and he would do anything for us. When our family plays basketball, he acts silly to distract us. He usually makes funny sounds and moves his hands around so we laugh and we miss the basket. We always do fun activities when we’re with him. All of us want to take a few seconds to say: We love you, Dad!
— Mikey, Petey and Nia Condeleon, 16, 13 and 10, Queens
First of all, his name isn’t Dad. It’s DADDY!
With a father like mine, who needs the lottery? My brother and I have been luckier than any Powerball winners.
He is hands down the best person I know…
As a retired FDNY lieutenant as well as a former NYPD officer. He raised my older brother and me on his own, after our mother abandoned us. And he did it all while dealing with a handicap. All on his own.
He helped us with our homework and taught us both how to drive. He told us both about the birds and the bees. He helped me as much as he could with “girl stuff.” He made us laugh, and still does. He put us both through college as well as graduate school. He spoiled us rotten (still does), but always knew how to keep us in line. He taught us respect and the importance of hard work.
He will be 70 next year, and he looks like a million dollars. Everywhere he goes, women give him the eye.
And anyone who thinks he spoils us should witness his generosity toward his granddaughters.
— Pamela Sparacino, 42, Brooklyn
What is a superhero? What is a supervillain? What are the traits that define and separate these two? What cultural contexts do we find them in? And why we need them? Editors Robin S. Rosenberg, PhD and Peter Coogan, PhD collected a series of essays examining these questions from both major comic book writers and editors, such as Stan Lee and Danny Fingeroth, and leading academics in psychology and cultural studies, such as Will Brooker and John Jennings. The following essay by legendary comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer Stan Lee is extracted from What is a Superhero? and entitled “More Than Normal, But Believable”.
A superhero is a person who does heroic deeds and has the ability to do them in a way that a normal person couldn’t. So in order to be a superhero, you need a power that is more exceptional than any power a normal human being could possess, and you need to use that power to accomplish good deeds. Otherwise, a policeman or a fireman could be considered a superhero. For instance, a good guy fighting a bad guy could be just a regular police story or detective story or human-interest story. But if it’s a good guy with a superpower who is fighting a bad guy, it becomes a superhero story. If the good guy is doing something that a normal human being couldn’t do, couldn’t accomplish, then I assume he becomes a superhero.
Not surprisingly, then, the first thing I would think of when trying to create a character is, what superpower will I give him or her? I’ll make somebody who can throw fireballs and fl y in the air. I’ll have somebody who can crawl on walls and shoot webs like a spider. So, automatically, those characters become superheroes. Of course, if they were evil, they would be supervillains, because the same rule applies: to be a supervillain, you have to be a villain, but you also have to have a superpower, just like a superhero has to. The word super is really the key.
But there’s no formula for creating characters. With Iron Man, I knew I wanted someone in an iron suit, and so his powers came from that. With Spider-Man, I knew I wanted someone with spider powers, so the name and costume came with that. It doesn’t matter whether you start with the character’s code name, his powers, or his costume; none of these conventions of the genre works better than the others as a starting place for creating a superhero. It just depends on whether you get lucky and what sells.
There doesn’t necessarily have to be a connection between the personality of the alter ego and the powers of the superhero. When we created the Fantastic Four, I knew that I wanted each of them to have distinct powers. Even though Reed is mentally bright and flexible, Johnny is a bit of a hothead, Sue is a shrinking violet, and Ben is a big lug—which fits with their powers—I could have made Sue go on and on and speak with big words, or made Johnny the intellectual, or given Reed a temper. The powers of the characters don’t necessarily have to reflect the personalities of the characters, and the Fantastic Four would have been just as successful if there had been no link between their personalities and their powers. It just depends on how it works out. That’s the way things were back then.
The problem with telling superhero stories is that it naturally follows that you need a supervillain. You need a foe who can make the story interesting, someone who’s at least as powerful as—and hopefully even more powerful than—the hero, because that makes the story fun. The viewer or the reader has to think to himself or herself, how is our hero ever going to get out of this? How is he ever going to beat the villain? We have to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. So the most important thing is to have a supervillain who is equally as colorful as and even more powerful than the hero apparently is.
I try to make the characters seem as believable and realistic as possible. In order to do that, I have to place them in the real world, or, if the story is set in an imaginary world, I have to try to make that imaginary world as realistic-seeming as possible, so the character doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He has to have friends, enemies, people he’s in love with, people he doesn’t love—just like any human being. I try to take the superhero and put him in as normal a world as possible, and the contrast between him and his power and the normal world is one of the things that make the stories colorful and believable and interesting.
Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing. He had the superpowers and wore that costume with the bright colors and silly cape. It’s the costume that was different. Zorro didn’t have superpowers, Doc Savage * didn’t have superpowers; they could just do things a little better than the rest of us. The Shadow † could be a superhero because he could make himself unseen, and if he appeared in a comic book today, he might be a superhero, though he doesn’t really wear a costume. I’m not an expert on the Shadow, but I think he just had a dark business suit and a sort of raincoat and a slouch hat. Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume.
But it does serve as a way of colorfully identifying the superhero, and it also announces him. When he gets into a fight with a bad guy, the costume sort of explains that he’s the good guy.
Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes. I didn’t need a house to fall on me to realize that—for whatever reason—fans love costumed heroes.
I think people are fascinated by superheroes because when we were young we all liked fairy tales, and fairy tales are stories of people with superpowers, people who are super in some way—giants, witches, magicians, always people who are bigger than life. Well, as we got older, we outgrew fairy tales. Most people don’t read fairy tales when they’re grown-ups, but I don’t think we ever outgrow our love for those kinds of stories, stories of people who are bigger and more powerful and more colorful than we are. So superhero stories, to me, are like fairy tales for grown-ups. I don’t know why, but the human condition is such that we love reading about people who can do things that we can’t do and who have powers that we wish we had.
* Editors’ note: Doc Savage is Clark Savage, Jr., a pulp adventurer whose adventures were published by Street and Smith from 1933 to 1949 and who has seen numerous paperback and comic book revivals. He is also the subject of a campy 1975 feature film, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, starring Ron Ely.
† The Shadow is a dark pulp vigilante who debuted in 1931 and went on to be the subject of a radio series, movie serials, paperbacks, comics, and a feature film. On radio he was voiced by Orson Welles and other actors, and he was played by Alec Baldwin in the 1994 film. He is often depicted as having the power to “cloud men’s minds” in order to be invisible. Writer Bill Finger was influenced by the depiction of the Shadow when he co-created Batman.
Headline image credit: Stan Lee speaking at the 2014 Phoenix Comicon at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.