Birthed into this world a year ago upon a wave of shock and horror not seen since Rosemary’s Baby or Eraserhead, in just 12 months, Gritty has come to exemplify everything about Philly that Philadelphians love.
He is our id, that primitive part of Philly’s collective psyche driven by instinct and impulse. He enjoys streaking and starting fights with fans from other cities. And he always looks like he just woke up, which is on-brand for Philly.
For his first birthday, I sent Gritty a few questions.
He sent back sass.
Gritty referred to me throughout his answers as “Allen.” I was ready to officially change my name — Who am I to question Gritty? — only to learn that he refers to all reporters as Allen.
He then gave me a hard time for one question: What is your Wawa order?
“As I have previously mentioned in former interviews, ‘Have you played Wawa Screen Roulette? Eyes closed — tap, tap, tap, complete order.’ Happy to see you’ve done research, Allen.”
Gritty thinks the Philly neighborhood he best relates to is the “Airport, mostly,” and he believes the most Philly thing about him is his accent.
We think birthdays are a time to reflect on the previous year. Unsure how Gritty will celebrate or what he’ll wish for — “Come on now, I don’t wish and tell, Allen” — we’ve compiled some of our favorite moments from Gritty’s first year.
It took Gritty only one tweet to endear himself to all of Philadelphia.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins retweeted Gritty’s debut photo with the words: “lol ok,” his epic response was, “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.”
As the marketing team behind Gritty put it during a panel at Philly Tech Week, it was Gritty’s “first personality tweet.”
And it was a personality Philly liked. Almost immediately, Philadelphians changed their tune and started defending Gritty.
Two weeks later, Gritty made another grand entrance in his debut at the Wells Fargo Center for the Flyers’ home opener by descending from the ceiling to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” He made a similar entrance at Lincoln Financial Field in February for the NHL’s Stadium Series, outlined in neon lights like a sign on the Vegas strip.
Speaking of stripping, Gritty went streaking at one point during the Stadium Series — or got “nakey” as he calls it — and made quite the exit as well, by getting ejected from the game.
Like most of Philadelphia, Gritty’s not afraid to pick a fight with anyone who has wronged him, or might be thinking about wronging him.
We teach our lessons early in Philadelphia. Don’t mess with the unhinged.
And all of Philadelphia — including Gritty — is unhinged.
This summer, he released a Spotify mix tape that spanned every genre of music, from the Pipes & Drums of Leanisch to Nickelback and Enya. He put out his resume, where he listed among his skills “Master of Karate and Friendship” and put his career objective as “the Iron Throne.” And Gritty’s March Madness bracket predicted that love would be the winner because love always wins.
He also picked up a pet during his first trip down the Shore, a “Northwestern Caribbean hermit crab” he named Claw’d.
We asked him about it.
“You never know yourself, really, until you become a parent. Crab motherhood is a journey that has shown me compassion, patience, and small pinch pain management. He smells a little, and honestly it’s really hard, crabs can’t wear deodorant," Gritty wrote to us. "In many ways, I am the child of Philadelphia, and Claw’d is my child. Which makes him the grandchild of Philadelphia. He is waiting to be spoiled with all your savings bonds like every first born grandchild is. Send them to my attention. Thx.”
So, Gritty’s using his new pet as a side hustle. Now that is Philly.
When Gritty was chosen as the NHL fans’ favorite mascot in June, he was quick to remind them all of when they were haters.
Not only did fans vote him their favorite mascot, NHL players did, too.
Gritty even garnered write-in votes in actual elections in November. In Philly alone, at least 43 people thought Gritty would do a better job than any human.
But we think his greatest honor is becoming a Jeopardy! question within his first year of existence, which must be some sort of record.
What is very cool indeed?
But when we asked what the highlight of his year above ground has been, Gritty had a more modest answer.
“Making it to year two,” he wrote. “Flyers just extended my internship!”