If this is my one true superhero power, then I want a mulligan.
I could have the power of flight, and avoid all that I-459 traffic in the morning. I could be telepathic, and know what you are thinking. I could teleport to Australia for vacation, to Phoenix for this year’s Final Four, to my favorite Chinese restaurant for Mongolian chicken. I could be invisible, and sneak into games at TD Garden in Boston and Madison Square Garden in New York City. I could travel in time, and go back to that glorious time the Braves won the World Series, and hopefully go forward to when they win it again.
But no, these are not my superhero powers. Not a one. My one power, apparently, is the captivating ability to make school systems close down due to snow and ice. Hooray.
When I was a newspaper reporter and editor, I often Tweeted about school closings. More often than not, I was the first media member in our coverage area to know. Having solid relationships with administrations helps you to be the first call or email.
I suppose high school students discovered this trend. I was dubbed the “school whisperer” by a colleague. During snow and ice threats, I gained more Twitter followers than Spann, it seemed, and they all ranged in ages fifteen to eighteen.
The phenomenon began in 2013, but 2014 was crazy. In January of that year, one school’s students told me that I had the ability to make snow fall from the sky. It snowed, and school was canceled for a day. When I reported the news, one student told me that she was currently jumping up and down screaming.
The next month, as Spann predicted more white flakes and ice, my number of followers dramatically increased. On February 11, when school was canceled, I was told that I was on a roll. A high school football player nominated me for the Heisman Trophy, an honor I would have gladly taken from the previous year’s winner, Jameis Winston.
One boy called me a hero. One girl told me that she loved me. So did a boy.
On February 12, 2014, one high school student told me that the snow would never stop, as long as I was around. It snowed again, and school was canceled. When I posted that news, another student Tweeted that it was Gary-official, and “That’s all that matters.”
I received more emojis that had red hearts for eyes and praying hands than I could count. Some students tried to get the hashtag #CountOnGareBear trending on Twitter. I hope that hashtag melts with the snow.
My power continued to one day in March 2015, and a baseball player gave me a social media shout-out for “coming through in the clutch.”
I received pictures of my Twitter handle scraped into the snow on porches and car windshields. Some students, after finding out a nearby rival school would close but theirs had not yet decided, deadpanned that they would transfer. When closing for a day seemed unlikely, I was instructed to please, please, please convince the administration to cancel school. “Gary has that kind of authority to get it done,” I was told.
In January of this year, after nearly two years away from daily news reporting, snow and ice were in the forecast. I Tweeted a question to my followers, asking them if they thought I had any magic left.
Schools were closed the next day.