Batman’s wheels draw squeals from Manatee Elementary students


Published:

Manatee Elementary School students gather around a custom-made replica of the Batmobile at the school Oct. 30. The vehicle, constructed by Port Canaveral-based Parker Brothers Concepts, was on hand to promote the school’s Nov. 7 Superhero Walk-A-Thon.

viera voice mike gaffey

As she gazed at the oddly shaped, big-wheeled black vehicle in Manatee Elementary School’s parking lot, a kindergartner shouted in delight.

“See? Batman IS real! I knew it!”

About 850 students from the area got a superhero-sized surprise on Oct. 30 as a full-sized, running replica of the Batmobile made famous in “The Dark Knight” movie trilogy made a stop at the school. The street-legal vehicle, constructed by Port Canaveral-based Parker Brothers Concepts, was on hand to promote the school’s Superhero Walk-A-Thon on Nov. 7. Students dressed in superhero costumes and ran laps during PE class, raising money for activities and class supplies.

“It was top secret until today and then we sprung it on them,” Manatee art teacher and walkathon organizer Ashley Heribacka said of the Batmobile’s visit.

The Batmobile didn’t roll out of the Batcave, but was built instead by Shanon and Marc Parker of Melbourne. The brothers, known for their unique concept cars, motorcycles, off-road and movie replica vehicles, recently were stars of the reality television series “Dream Machines” on SyFy. They’ve built custom cars for rapper 50 Cent and WWE wrestler John Cena. One of their concept vehicles, the “battleship shredder,” appeared in the movie “Battleship.” Earlier this year, Parker Brothers Concepts moved from its Aurora Road location to a 20,000-square-foot facility at 730 Mullet Rd. in Port Canaveral, where its custom creations are on public display for a fee.

Shanon Parker said his company used screen captures of the Batmobile from the Batman movies to guide them in building the vehicle, called the “Tumbler” in the films. Work took about 1 1/2 months. The custom-made replica sports an LS1 Corvette engine and “Swamp Stomper” rear wheels. 

There are no ejection seats or missile launchers in the vehicle’s two-seat interior. Instead, crime-fighters can enjoy an iPad and a stereo while patrolling for crooks.

“It’s got switches and there’s some cameras inside, but there’s not a lot of visibility once you get inside,” said Parker, who estimated the Batmobile’s sale price at $500,000.

Last year’s Walk-A-Thon raised a record $17,000, said Viera resident Mike Dierking, a Manatee parent and volunteer. “It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for the school,” he said.

In the week preceding the Walk-A-Thon, teachers, parent volunteers and school patrols dressed up in superhero costumes and explained procedures to get students excited about the event, Heribacka said.

“This wouldn’t be possible without our parents,” Heribacka said. “It’s amazing how much they help us. Our PTO is great. They’re the ones who do all the work.”

For more information, call Manatee Elementary School at 321-433-0050 or go to edline.net/pages/Manatee_Elementary