If Philadelphia already had a rough-around-the-edges reputation, “Gritty” isn’t going to help us shake it. But you know what? We like it that way – and we welcome the new Flyers mascot with open, oversized fuzzy orange arms. Revealed to an unsuspecting world on Sept. 24, 2018, our guy (or gal?) Gritty towers over mere mortals and what’s going on behind his googly eyes is anyone’s guess. The sheer shock that followed the unveiling slowly turned to acceptance here at home and then national recognition and even adoration. It’s the same level of recognition that cheesesteaks in Philly get from eateries elsewhere in the country, but we’ll get to that later.
A recent New York Post article declares Gritty to be the “world’s most popular mascot” and it’s hard to argue otherwise. What’s surprising, as the article points out, is that the Flyers were sans mascot up until this point. “We had a safe version that was light and friendly and the typical kid-friendly mascot — not to say that Gritty isn’t kid-friendly, because he is — but we wanted something that was going to stand out from the crowd,” the Flyers’ vice president of marketing and communications told the Post.
It wasn’t smooth sailing – or skating, we should say – from the start. The creature with fur that’s just about the same color of Cheese Whiz you’ll find on cheesesteaks in Philly was an oddity. However, the internet persona took off and the country started paying attention to an NHL team’s mascot as the embodiment of something more – despite the fact that he looks like a “misshapen carrot.” He appeared on late-night TV talk shows, he sank half-court basketball shots, he started internet feuds with other mascots, was adopted by political activists and even volunteered to host the 90th Academy Awards. Somehow, it all just seems right in ways that only Philadelphians would ever understand. It probably makes up for that whole throwing-snowballs-at-Santa episode, too.
Want to see Gritty for yourself? Of course you do – and the Flyers have seven home games scheduled for January 2019. While nobody has any idea what antics he’ll be up to during those on-ice appearances, we can assure you that there will be plenty of cheesesteaks in Philly waiting for attendees who come to Geno’s before or after the game. Conveniently located in South Philly along the popular East Passyunk Avenue corridor, it’s just a short drive from the Wells Fargo Center to 9th Street.