When I lived outside Philadelphia about a decade ago, one thing I learned was that Philly was not the “City of Brotherly Love,” no matter what the etymology of the name meant. No, Philadelphia was the city that booed Santa Claus! Santa Claus! And the city booed him!
No, I had no idea what this meant. None. Just that at sometime, perhaps in a dimly-remembered mythical past, Philadelphia booed Santa Claus.
To my surprise, The Guardian today ran an article on the very thing! Philadelphia! Booing Santa Claus! See?
On 15 December 1968, the Eagles were playing Minnesota Vikings at Franklin Field in the last game of a disastrous season and the match was level at half-time. The local 19-year-old Frank Olivo, who had taken to wearing his Uncle Charlie’s Father Christmas outfit to the last Eagles game of each season, was summoned from the crowd by officials and asked to stand in for a hired pro whose sleigh had been stranded by a snowstorm.
The story gets worse from there. Running down the field. The rolling thunder of boos. Ice-packed snowballs hurled from the stands. Booing a man dressed as Santa Claus.
The final word?
Santa Claus continues to deliver to Philadelphia each Christmas. The hapless Eagles have yet to bring a Super Bowl home.
But if the Phillies could bury the Curse of Billy Penn, maybe there’s hope for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not that I really care one way or the other. Football, American football that is, just isn’t my thing.
Now I know the story behind what I thought, honestly, was just an urban legend. But no, Philadelphia really did boo Santa Claus.