Frank Olivo would like to set a few things straight about the Santa Claus outfit he wore to Franklin Field on Dec. 15th, 1968 - the day that pissed-off Eagles fans booed young Olivo and pelted him with snowballs.
I wrote a column about the infamous incident in the paper today, since it was the 40th anniversary of the ridiculous event. I wasn't able to track down Olivo before the column ran, so I relied on several eyewitnesses who who were there that day and eager to share their memories. (Including singer/songwriter Chuck Brodsky, whose song about the event you can listen to on my earleir blog post.)
Their memories, apparently, are flawed. So says the amiable Olivo, whom I was finally able to speak with a few moments ago, as he prepared to leave his Glenolden home for tonight's Eagles game against the Browns.
So here are Five Fun Facts From Frank about that Booed Santa Incident:
1. His Santa suit, owned by his uncle, wasn't grubby and threadbare, as disgruntled fans claim. It was only two years old, a high-quality get-up made of sturdy courduroy, and it cost $100 - "that was a lot of money back then," says Frank. However, the Eagles had given him a crumpled Eagles sack to carry the candy that he tossed to fans, so maybe that's what people remmber - the ratty bag.
2. He wasn't a skinny Santa, as people have claimed. "I was stuffed with pillows," he says. "I'm not a big guy" - 5-foot-6 - "so I don't cut an impressive figure. But I was definitely padded. I wasn't big. But I was jolly."
3. He was sober. "People say I was drunk. That's absolutely false! I was at the game with my uncles; when you were with them you had to be on your best behavior."
4. He understands why fans pelted him with snowballs. "The team was horrible. They wanted to express their displeasure. So they booed and threw snowballs. I'd have done exactly the same thing, if I weren't on the field."
5. He loves being known as the Santa who got booed. "Every few years, I get interviewed. I've been written about in a book. I've been on an ESPN movie. It's been a blast. I think people will be talking about this for another 50 years."