Happy Birthday, Gritty: Philadelphia's furry friend turns 5
First off, happy (early) birthday. We can't believe it's been five years since Philadelphians first stared into those monstrous googly eyes of mayhem that we've all come to adore.
Flashback: Like many pruny, radish-red (or in your case, neon orange) newborns, it took a minute for us to see our reflection in you.
- We didn't realize what you were all about until those hated Pittsburgh Penguins dismissively responded to your debut with that slapstick shot heard 'round the Wells Fargo Center: "Lol ok."
- Your gritty response to Mr. "Happy Feet" — "Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird" — embodied the fighting spirit of Philly, a city that loves blue-collar brawlers who keep punching when their eyes are blackened and swollen shut.
The big picture: The ice is cold, hard and slippery, as you found out during your home debut.
- Philadelphia can be a harsh place, we know. It's the City of Brotherly Love. Sometimes brotherly love looks like Will Ferrell getting choked with a headphone cord.
Flash forward: Now you're a man inside a mascot suit and a myth, a sought-after media darling whose dodgy, darting eyes and boorish, mischievous antics have become the stuff of legend.
Your highlight reel: We loved watching you jump-slam a couple of unassuming fans dressed as sumo wrestlers, stomping New York pizza (cheesesteaks all the way, baby) and shooting fans with a T-shirt gun.
- When you streaked across Lincoln Financial Field in your birthday suit, the anthropomorphic animal community (read: furries) went wild.
- You weren't afraid to incur God's wrath when you played lockdown defense on a group of nuns at St. Francis De Sales School in Philadelphia, then unapologetically swatted one sister's shot and gave her one of the most disrespectful, bragging big-belly thrusts in mascot history.
- You're so hospitable, too. When the Rangers' fans visit, you shower them with popcorn baths and good-old fashioned hostility. That's a Philly thing.
Not everyone likes your bully ways, but you're a survivor.
- You've lived fully and colorfully, making millions of people smile and wince. You made orange, long glossed over by interior designers and kids digging through their crayon boxes, great again!
- Remember that when you blow out your candles on Sunday. Philly's wishes are riding on you.
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