Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Santa /Eagles Snowball Attack

Let's celebrate the 40th anniversary of Eagles fans booing Santa Claus by singing a song about it - composed by a native son who was there.

The Santa /Eagles Snowball Attack

Singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky has memorialized the Santa Snowball incident in song.
Singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky has memorialized the Santa Snowball incident in song.

So today marks the 40th anniversary of the day Eagles fans booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs at Franklin Field, during the last game of that god-awful 1968 season.

And how are you going to observe this most blessed event?

Allow me to suggest you give a listen to singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky’s hilarious “Great Santa Snowball Debacle of 1968" (click on the Mp3 file, below),  his musical account of what happened. Because - yes - he was at Franklin Field on that infamous day.

He was eight years old, a frequent attendee of Eagles games with his dad, and he remembers well those catcalls and snowballs.

“I was under the impression they did that all the time,” he told me last week by phone from Asheville, North Carolina, where he relocated years ago from Bala Cynwyd, where he grew up. “The games were always loud and wild. So booing Santa didn’t stand out as an anomaly to me.”


Brodsky’s written a number of terrific sports-themed songs – more than a handful of them about seminal moments in Philadelphia sports history – but the Santa one is my favorite.

 I’m delighted to share the Mp3 file here. Click, enjoy and revel in the wussy safety of being an armchair badass. And if you care to sing along, here are the lyrics:

The Great Santa Snowball Debacle of 1968

It was the 15th of December
Franklin Field in Philly
The subject of debate:
Did the Eagles' fans boo Santa
Beause they thought that he was drunk?
Because his costume was in tatters?
Or because the team just stunk?

The coach was Joe Kuharich
He clearly had to go
The homemade banners hanging up
They all were saying so
They hung him from the flagpole
In effigy that day
An airplane pulled a sign
That told him where to go away

It was the last game of the season
The team would finish 2 and 12
The snow was really falling
The cheerleaders dressed like elves
Norm Snead threw interceptions
The runners gained no ground
If it wasn't for the booing
There wouldn't have been a sound

The gun went off at halftime
But the field had too much snow
To go on with the regularly
Scheduled halftime show
The guy who would play Santa
Never even left his house
He'd phoned a little earlier
To say that he could not get out

And there was Frank Olivo
A 19 year old fan
In his Uncle Charlie's Santa suit
With a fake beard in the stands
Did someone from the Eagles
Come & promise him applause?
If he'd just run out on the field
While the band played "Here Comes Santa Claus."

There probably was some drinking
If you measured the whole scene
There were the usual bare chested guys
With faces painted green
By the time our Frank Olivo
Had hit the end zone running
The first of what would be a couple hundred
Snowballs started coming

One knocked off his glasses
One knocked of his beard
A couple of them made his
Phony eyebrows disappear
He gave the crowd the finger
And stood there like a giant
“You'll all get nothing for Christmas”
He yelled out in defiance

In the safety of the tunnel
He scooped snow out of his ears
The Eagles marketing director
Asked if he'd come back the next year
Frank Olivo answered,
“No, I don't think so
Because next year it might be bottles
If there isn't any snow.”



Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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