It’s gonna be a cloudy last day of 2021, with temperatures hitting the low 50s.

Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” And this year was no exception for Philly. We got weird in lots of ways — like making a three-block-long “cheesesteak” that wasn’t actually a cheesesteak. Check out 10 of the year’s weirdest Philly moments.

And even as the restaurant industry continues to suffer from the pandemic, more than 50 new spots are set to open next year.

There won’t be a Sunday Morning Newsletter this weekend, but Kerith will be back to bring you the news Monday. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Ten of the weirdest moments of 2021 in the Philly region

Philly, you made it weird in 2021. So our reporter and scholar of the wondrously weird Stephanie Farr listed 10 of the strangest moments. Here’s a sampling:

💥 Lady Hawk: The spring brought Mare of Easttown starring several scene-stealing hoagies alongside the thoroughly committed Kate Winslet as Wawa’s most cynical customer. Mare fever got so high that Saturday Night Live parodied it, and Wawa and the Delaware County Historical Society even got in on the fun.

💥 High Cheese Stakes: While we’re on local foods, was that 510-foot cheesesteak really a cheesesteak? Ask the self-appointed “Philadelphia Hoagie Commission,” and see one of today’s trivia questions below for more.

💥 Swift Stardom: Another weird gift was Her Royal internet-crowned Highness “Mare of Havertown.” Little did Eagles fan Mary Kate Mink know that she was about to set the Internet aflame with her words about a bad penalty call that endeared her to social media users everywhere.

Check out Stephanie’s entire list of weird moments!

What you should know today

A look ahead at restaurants opening in 2022 in the Philadelphia area

Let our reporter Michael Klein set the table for next year’s restaurant and bar landscape.

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, there’s just as much optimism out there,” says Klein, who has chronicled the local food scene’s comings and goings since 1993.

Here’s just a taste of some ’22 openings: A Japanese bar! Burgers and dogs! A Mediterranean BYOB! A shiny new cafe from a South Philly bakery! Of particular note:

🍹Pop-up goes permanent: Her Place Supper Club is now permanent and the chef confirms there will be drinks.

🧱 New bricks: The Southwest Philadelphia Jamaican restaurant Kingston 11 is getting a new brick-and-mortar location on South Street.

👋🏽 Comebacks: Some shuttered establishments will return, including Giuseppe & Sons, Koch’s Deli, Joseph’s Pizza, Royal Tavern, and The Franklin.

Get ahead of the curve by checking out Mike’s forecast of restaurants opening in 2022.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Do you know what those yellow grids that look a lot like “Connect 4″ game boards on Peco poles are actually for? The 12-by-8-inch yellow lattices adorning roughly half of the 400,000 utility poles exist for a reason. Find out the answer.

Bonus Round: And how many feet long was the world’s biggest cheesesteak before the cheesesteak listed in today’s newsletter tried to dethrone it? A) 212 feet B) 348 feet C) 426 feet D) 480 feet. Find out the answer.

Your Playlist

This was the first year I finally got to see live music in Philly.

I saw H.E.R. lift her silver Stratocaster over her head to play the best take on Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” I’ve ever seen. I saw the lead singer of THE definitive Led Zeppelin cover band Get The Led Out basically bring Robert Plant back. And I saw the troubadour of our time Bob Dylan for the 8 millionth time in my life.

Here’s a playlist of my favorite songs from Philly concerts.

Photo of the day

🎶 Smile for me little one. And this will be our year. Took a long time to come.🍾