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Gritty creates petition to attend Flyers games, more than 12,000 sign, NHL relents

Gritty's petition to allow mascots at NHL games next season has more than 12,000 backers.

Gritty will be back at the Wells Fargo Center for Flyers games in January.
Gritty will be back at the Wells Fargo Center for Flyers games in January.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer went this week when Gritty took to the online platform to petition the National Hockey League and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to allow him to attend games when pro hockey returns in January.

Nobody wants to mess around with Gritty (or Philly) and find out what happens, and on Tuesday night, the NHL announced that all mascots will be allowed in their home arenas, so long as they remain in nonrestricted areas and maintain face coverings and social-distancing guidelines.

“We gave the League the option to do this the easy way or the hard way,” Gritty said in a statement to The Inquirer. “They did the right thing.”

Titled “Make Gritty Essential: A Plea to the NHL,” the petition, which was posted by “Gritty Gritty” on Monday, had more than 12,000 signatures (and growing) as of Wednesday from people around the world who proclaimed Gritty is: “the wind beneath my wings” “Our lord and savior,” “hockey,” “a national treasure,” and “life.”

In the petition, the Flyers mascot wrote in energized desperation about his “long and treacherous” quest to reach Bettman (”I even tried to send a carrier goose”) to get permission to attend Flyers games next season.

“Without me, where is the joy? Where is the artistry? Where is the downright tomfoolery that delicately balances with the on-ice battles and displays of athletic prowess?” Gritty wrote. “One cannot simply exist without the other.”

He ended his plea with “Let’s get weird.”

Among the 12,000 signatories who backed the petition were Flyers fans, Penguins fans, Canucks fans, Blue Jackets fans, and people who proclaimed they don’t like hockey but love Gritty.

“I am signing as Gritty brings our Philly spirit at a time we cannot be there in person to do it,” wrote Maureen Szulewski. “Stop being a humbug and let Gritty do his thing.”

Some signed because they said Gritty was the orange ray of hope that got them through this year while others signed out of totally rational and justified fear.

“Gritty is an ancient powerful entity and we should never deny Gritty. The consequences could be catastrophic,” wrote Catherine Carter. “Long live Gritty.”

Even Flyers center Kevin Hayes expressed his support for the petition on Twitter, writing “Big decision to make! If @GrittyNHL is not allowed in the building for games then I don’t think I can play this year! #GetGrittyIn

Despite the fact that Gritty’s last appearance at a Flyers game was in March, his popularity has grown exponentially this year, fueled, in part, by the endless stream of election memes created around him when all eyes were on Philly’s ballot count in early November.

From a female Gritty doppleganger that appeared on the streets of London during the U.S. election to French journalists who were forced to explain to their audiences just what a Gritty is, Philly’s chaotic overlord went international this year, in the best way possible.

In a year marked by chaos, uncertainty, and wide-eyed terror, Gritty became not just a mascot for Philly, but for all of 2020.