The Knolls Ranger rides into Bixby Knolls

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Bixby Knolls welcomes their "official superhero" the Knolls Ranger. Thanks to Thom Wasper for the photos.

Bixby Knolls welcomes their "official superhero" the Knolls Ranger. photos by Thom Wasper

Creative firm Smolarcorp and the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association are introducing the “Knolls Ranger,” the official Superhero of Bixby Knolls.

The Knolls Ranger has a secret identity and a fantastical back-story, but his mission is simple:  to be a friendly neighborhood greeter for the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association.   With a bright costume, a larger-than-life spirit and a friendly and approachable attitude, he’s a new twist on traditional business corridor services.

“He radiates the spirit of ‘paying it forward’ with a good attitude,” said Ryan Smolar, project creator. “He has a funny and courteous personality, and he pays attention to every person he meets.”

“The Knolls Ranger will be another set of eyes and ears out on the street,” said Blair Cohn, Executive Director for the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association.  “Not only will he be opening doors for people, meet and greet folks and make people feel welcomed in the area, but he will also gather more feedback from the businesses so the BKBIA can address their wants and needs.”

knolls-ranger-2The Knolls Ranger made his debut appearance at First Fridays on September 4, and is returning to First Fridays on October 2.   Along with event attendance, he will also stroll Atlantic Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard.

Smolarcorp presented the Knolls Ranger concept to the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association in early 2009 with a request for “Official Super-Hero Status.”

“When I was asked by Smolarcorp if I wanted a superhero for Bixby Knolls I said ‘of course we do! Why wouldn’t we?’” said Cohn.  “I shared the concept with the BKBIA Board of Directors and there was a formal presentation at a board meeting to make the Knolls Ranger a new marketing campaign for Bixby Knolls.  We knew of other “greeters” or characters in other major cities and figured why can’t we have one in Bixby Knolls?  We already have a Duke & Duchess who are our ambassadors to the neighborhood so the Knolls Ranger is a perfect liaison for the businesses.”

Smolar developed the initial idea for Long Beach’s own Superhero in 2006.  He shelved his caped concept to work on other projects, and along the way, he uncovered a handful of community-minded superheroes in the U.S. and Europe.

In Jackson, Michigan, a masked superhero named “Captain Jackson” ‘patrols’ the downtown and helped repair a historic theater.  In New York, a masked woman calling herself “Terrifica” patrols bars at closing and gives cab phone numbers to young women who might need a safe ride home.  In England, two caped crusaders have helped stranded motorists along country roads since 2005.

For more information about the Knolls Ranger, including a sneak-peek at his upcoming comic book, visit www.knollsranger.com.

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