Gritty meets a fan
|Description||Large, furry, orange creature in Flyers regalia|
|First seen||September 24, 2018|
|Related mascot(s)||Phillie Phanatic|
Gritty is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League (NHL) team. He is a 7-foot (2.1 m) furry orange creature with googly eyes who wears Flyers' gear. Gritty has been compared to the Phillie Phanatic, the mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. He was created by Brian Allen of Flyland Designs with help from David Raymond, the first man to portray the Phillie Phanatic. Gritty was introduced on September 24, 2018. According to his official biography, Gritty emerged after construction at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers' home arena, disturbed his secret hideout. Within the months following his debut, he became an internet sensation and made appearances on several talk shows.
Prior to Gritty's debut, the Flyers were only one of two NHL teams without an official mascot, the other being the New York Rangers. The team previously had a mascot named Slapshot, but it only lasted one season, in 1976. The "Slapshot" name now belongs to the mascot of the Flyers' division rival, the Washington Capitals.
The impetus for Gritty's creation was when the Flyers' marketing department attended the mascot events at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, Tennessee, and realized that they were missing out on all the marketing and community outreach programs that the league's mascots were generating for their respective teams. The Flyers then commissioned Brian Allen of Flyland Designs in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, to design Gritty in August 2018. David Raymond, who portrayed the Phillie Phanatic, consulted on Gritty's creation. The Flyers organization wanted Gritty to have a rather intimidating appearance, as "someone you'd high-five but not hug" according to Allen.
Many sources brought attention to his appearance, which could be construed as frightening, while The Guardian described him as an "acid trip of a mascot." Gritty was lampooned on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Saturday Night Live. He was re-appropriated as a socialist and antifa meme in a manner similar to how Pepe the Frog was re-appropriated by various alt-right groups. In response, Sarah Schwab, director of marketing for the team, said Gritty was never intended to represent anything political, and that he was never left-wing or right-wing as he "doesn't know his right from his left".
Response to Gritty's introduction was immediate and sharply mixed, with many fans on social media expressing bewilderment and some fright at his appearance. Public perception of Gritty became increasingly positive as Gritty's antics, which subverted the cuddly, family-friendly appearance and demeanor of other NHL mascots, gained more attention on social media. On September 24, 2018, a few minutes after Gritty's debut, Gritty appeared to threaten longtime Flyers rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Twitter. In his first on-ice appearance, Gritty fell while firing T-shirts into the crowd from a T-shirt cannon. In his second appearance on ice, Gritty body-checked contestants in a goalie race during an intermission and shot a Flyers staff member with a T-shirt cannon.
Shortly after his debut, the residents of Philadelphia began to embrace Gritty. On October 24, 2018, the Philadelphia City Council passed a formal resolution honoring Gritty, declaring that he honored the city's spirit and passion.
On March 20, 2019, it was announced the NHL Player's Association had voted Gritty the number one mascot in the league.
On October 13, 2019, the first ever “Gritty anti-runners 5K” took place. This 5K race included Gritty’s favorite things along the track, including hot dogs, silly string, and a shrine to Claude Giroux.
In November 2019, during a fan meet-and-greet between Gritty and Flyers season ticket holders, a fan reported that the Flyers employee portraying Gritty punched their 13 year old son in the back. After an internal investigation by the Flyers led to no other witnesses of such abuse, the fan reported the incident to the Philadelphia Police Department, which has led to its own investigation. On February 3, 2020, the Flyers employee portraying Gritty was officially cleared of any wrongdoing and charges were declined to be filed following an investigation conducted by the South Detectives Division of the Philadelphia Police Department.
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- Cantor, Matthew (September 27, 2018). "Gritty: why the Philadelphia Flyers' new acid trip of a mascot must be stopped". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
- Nick Vadala (October 1, 2018). "John Oliver compares Brett Kavanaugh to Flyers mascot Gritty on 'Last Week Tonight'". .philly.com. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- EJ Smith (September 30, 2018). "'Saturday Night Live's' Weekend Update takes its shot at Gritty". philly.com. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- Blackburn, Pete (September 25, 2018). "It's Gritty! Philadelphia Flyers New Mascot is Pure Unadulterated Nightmare Fuel". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
- Jeremy Schneider. "9 Ridiculous Things Gritty, the Flyers' New Insane Mascot, has Already Done". nj.com. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
- "Gritty on Twitter: "Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.… "". November 27, 2018. Archived from the original Check
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- . Bar Down Sports https://www.bardown.com/gritty-stormed-the-ice-and-started-bodychecking-flyers-employees-during-in-game-stunt-1.1182175. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Missing or empty
- Ellie Silverman (October 13, 2018). "What is Gritty? A 'lovable monster,' the orange embodiment of Philly and the Flyers, or a brand marketing breakthrough?". .philly.com. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- "Gritty, Stuff Of Nightmares, Has Been Officially Welcomed To Philadelphia". NPR. April 18, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- Cale Ahearn (March 20, 2019). "Gritty voted NHL's Best Team Mascot | WPMT FOX43". Fox43.com. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
- "A Gritty-themed 'anti-runners' 5k is happening". The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 29, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
- Horgan, Colin (November 27, 2018). "Liberté, Egalité, Gritté: how an NHL mascot became an antifa hero". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 29, 2018.