Gotham City has Batman, striking fear into the hearts of Gotham’s criminal underworld. Metropolis has Superman, fighting for truth, justice and a better tomorrow.
Hudson County has Captain Bayonne, running along and patrolling the streets of Bayonne.
It was a dark night in 2010 when Brian Rocheny was running along Avenue A in Bayonne, training for a NYC Marathon. He was nearly struck by a car, resulting in a verbal altercation with the driver and the passenger. It was then that Rocheny was given his equivalent to “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
“You should wear lighter clothing,” the driver said.
“I could probably just go out and buy a runner’s vest,” Rocheny said. “But if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it [right], and when I’m done, there will never be an excuse that ‘I didn’t see you running’ because the outfit is just going to be so over-the-top that you probably need to get your eyes checked if you don’t see me coming along.”
Many heroes experiment with their name before something sticks (or until people give the hero a name).
Much like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, Rocheny came up with a superhero name of his own, “Fat Flash,” before the people of Bayonne dubbed him “Captain Bayonne.”
It wasn’t until 2013 when a Facebook page was created where the people of Bayonne gave a name to their own superhero, and it was there that the name “Captain Bayonne” was born. He also has an Instagram account, but neither page is run by the Captain, but instead by a Bayonne firefighter.
As Captain Bayonne, Rocheny would go on runs around town, challenge drivers at stop lights to races on foot and pick up trash around Bayonne, literally keeping his city clean. He has also done many local fundraisers, his first of which involved selling Captain Bayonne t-shirts to raise money for a child that needed a handicap-accessible van.
He’s done numerous fundraisers, including one for his high school guidance counselor whose apartment building burned down, collecting food and clothing donations and the annual Captain Bayonne Toy Drive during the Christmas season.
“It’s all about trying to do something nice,” Rocheny said. “It may not be massive in any way, but it is something that does mean a lot to someone.”
While Captain Bayonne loves to get involved in fundraisers for great causes, these fundraisers have slowed down since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Regardless, the Captain is always willing to lend a helping hand wherever Bayonne may need him.
“Whatever Bayonne wants, Captain Bayonne is here for,” Rocheny said. “I’m always completely open to anything.”
Being so actively involved in his community, Captain Bayonne has become an icon for the city of Bayonne.
From t-shirts, to coffee mugs and baseball caps (all sold for fundraisers), to his very own theme song written by the Bayonne Bleeders, Captain Bayonne managed to run his way into the hearts of the people of Bayonne.
With all this buzz around Captain Bayonne within Bayonne, he’s managed to gain notoriety outside of New Jersey. Rocheny works at Columbia University and will often exercise outside in his Captain Bayonne regalia, with students often taking pictures of him and with him. He’ll usually perform an exercise unique to Captain Bayonne: throwing Gatorade bottles in trash cans using his feet.
Throwing Gatorade bottles in trash cans using your feet is an activity/sport that Captain Bayonne himself invented. It originated when he was picking up garbage and was looking for a creative way to dispose of it, and thus his foot-bottle-throwing exercise became a superpower of the mighty Captain Bayonne.
“When I do it, people will sit and watch, and cheer me on,” Rocheny said. “They’ll attempt to do it themselves. Again, this is another thing that came from [being Captain Bayonne].”
Beyond the notoriety within his hometown and his workplace, Captain Bayonne has been featured in Weird N.J., WhatIsNewYork and NJ.com for being a standout character (and now he can add Slice of Culture to his list of features!).
Captain Bayonne has been a part of the community of Bayonne for over a decade, and he’s become a key part of the city’s identity. Being as involved as he is with the community of Bayonne, the Captain has seen the very best out of Bayonne, deepening the love he has for the city he’s lived in for over 30 years.
“People around here are the true superheroes,” Rocheny said. “The things that they do, they don’t think anything of it because they have really good values and morals.”
With no plans to slow down, Captain Bayonne plans to continue to help Bayonne, one fundraiser and trash cleanup at a time.