“This wasn’t planned — the Spider-Man thing wasn’t planned,” a man known to most as the Denton Spider-Man says, facing the town’s courthouse on a brilliant November afternoon.
Of course, Spider-Man isn’t the real identity of Jeremy Sons, a bodybuilder and fitness coach who lives in Sanger, a small town just north of Denton. But on this brisk fall day, Sons wears a full-body Spider-Man suit while crouching atop his truck, which is also decked out in Spidey décor and bears the vanity plates: “WEBS.”
Kids enthusiastically wave as they walk by and even adults ask if they can take a picture with him. To the Denton Spider-Man, there's nothing better.
Sons says he felt compelled to don the Spidey-suit after COVID-19 hit North Texas in March.
“I thought wearing a Spider-Man outfit to the grocery store would be a pretty safe thing to wear, because it covered my whole body,” he says with a laugh. “And I wore a mask over the Spider-Man outfit, too, to show that heroes wear masks.”
Afterward, Sons uploaded a video of the excursion to his social media, but what he couldn’t have anticipated was a flood of messages and requests from strangers. Parents who had lost their job because of coronavirus wanted to know: Did he do children’s birthday parties?
Since then, Sons has appeared at around 600 scheduled parties to spread joy during a dire time — free of charge. Soon, people began inviting the Denton Spider-Man to baby showers, 90-year-olds’ birthday parties and “everything in-between.”
Although he mainly serves the Denton area, Sons says he’ll scuttle to Dallas, Fort Worth and other North Texas towns upon request. Earlier this month, he dashed to Ardmore, Oklahoma, for an event, and has gotten requests from as far away as Michigan.
Spider-Man doesn’t rest, either: Sons says he works up to 40 parties per week, 7 days a week. Plus, he still trains clients starting at 5 a.m.
“You’ve got to be in shape,” Sons says.
One of Sons’ greatest Spider-Man memories is when two North Texas parents asked him to surprise their son, who has autism. The boy had been bullied by neighborhood kids, so Sons made sure to let them know how cool he was. The parents later called back to report that since Spider-Man's visit, those neighborhood kids won’t stop asking their son to hang out.
Spider-Man also delves into the realm of public service announcements; Sons says he’s had parents ask him to make encouraging videos for kids who are scared of monsters in the closet or who are having trouble “peeing in the potty.”
In addition, Sons relishes time spent with terminally ill kids and says he tries his best to brighten their day. It’s still rough sometimes, though.
“I mean, I’m still human,” he says. “I’m not actually Spider-Man.”
Regardless, Sons says he’ll continue to don the Spidey suit even after the pandemic is over. It’s his new life calling, and he has big plans for the future.
Soon, there could be a fleet of superheroes — from the Incredible Hulk to Wonder Woman — ready to unite North Texans and infuse the region with cheer.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a 50-year-old Trump supporter or a 50-year-old Biden supporter, it’s all smiles,” Sons says. “There’s so many things today, it’s one side or the other, and I think spreading love and laughter, it’s for everybody.”
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.