Gritty’s third birthday is right around the corner! His job is to hype up the fans, but when the cavernous halls of the Wells Fargo Center were empty due to Covid, he found a way to adapt and overcome by thinking up outlandish stunts to entertain the fans at home. He…It?… had a platform installed where he commanded the masses doing things like lead the empty seats in the “make some noise” demands with airhorns and tambourines, he threw his comically oversized hat on the ice for hat tricks, he built an army of inflatable Grittys to keep him company and much more. He was a welcome distraction from the atrocities that were occurring on the ice and gave everyone a much needed laugh during the trying times that have been the last calendar year.
Number 5: Fan Suggestion Night
As the season wound down, Gritty took suggestions from folks on Twitter as to what kind of hijinks he should get into that night, and needless to say, both the fans and Gritty delivered. He did everything from swimming in a pool of Wawa pretzels, to an interpretive dance holding jello, to throwing a cake at a lucky(?) fan, to stealing the Declaration of Independence. It was a night where the fans put their creativity to the test and the unwieldy mascot rose to the occasion and performed as many as he could.
Number 4: Gritty Up
With the lack of fans in the building, Gritty had plenty of room to install… a mechanical bull. Yes, the orange creature donned his best Canadian tuxedo and cowboy hat and rode a mechanical bull rinkside on the night of March 11. Somebody gave him a lasso and bull ship as well. He partied the night away and a montage of clips was posted to his social media the next day set to Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road, a very nice touch on an impressive feat.
Number 3: Trip to Lake Tahoe
The Flyer came back from their battle with Covid just in time for their outdoor game in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Gritty made the trip with them. He lived his best life on vacation, doing everything from snowboarding, to crashing someone’s real wedding, to creepily watching the Flyers take on the Bruins from behind a tree in the darkened woods surrounding the rink. The Flyers may have been dominated by the Bruins on the ice, but, as always, Gritty saved the day off it.
Number 2: French Jawn
One of the first outlandish things Gritty did this year was model nude on a couch while local artist Benjamin Davis painted his likeness. Gritty entered the game on February 3 with nothing more than a fur coat, which of course he took off in slow motion, and proceeded to plop down on a couch for almost the entirety of the game as Ben crafted his image. He did an incredible job with the piece, as one can imagine, painting Gritty like one of your French jawns can’t be easy. Bonus fun fact, the finished product was later raffled off by Flyers Charities, so I’d like to think somewhere in Eastern Pennsylvania there hangs a naked Gritty over someone’s dining room table.
Number 1: The Ball Pit
One of the benefits of having no fans in the building means Gritty had as much room as necessary to put together his stunts for the night, and he took that to heart on January 31 when he had his own personal ball pit installed. There’s something majestic about dolphins breaking the surface of the ocean just as there’s something majestic about a seven-foot, coked up muppet jumping out of a ball pit. He tried many different ways of dismounting into the pit, including a standing back tuck, something that surely would’ve won gold at the Olympics this summer. After he was done jumping for the night, he watched the rest of the game buried in the pit up to his googly eyes… waiting for his next victim to enter the pit with him.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: @GrittyNHL