Wing Bowl madness as Eagles coach Chip Kelly appears at Wells Fargo Center
This morning, thousands of half-awake spectactors flocked from packed parking lots into the Wells Fargo Center to watch a circus with a wing-eating contest thrown in.
It was 94 WIP's annual Wing Bowl, whose slogan is "We're legal" because this is No. 21. Presiding over the madness once again, was the FM station's morning-show crew, including host Angelo Cataldi, sidekick and event inventor Al Morganti, and the ever-sensible Rhea Hughes.
In many ways, what makes Wing Bowl so much more than just a chowfest is all of its pom-poms and circumstance, its pregame pageantry, with major prizes thrown in.
Oh, and don't forget the Wingettes, all 107 of them. (For details about the eating contest itself, see "Wing Bowl 21 shocker: New England Bear wins."
As the broadcast began at 6 a.m., Cataldi made a major announcement: New Eagles coach Chip Kelly would attend.
Sure enough, about 7:45 a.m., after most of the eaters had paraded with their entourages, "Fly Eagles Fly" started playing and the crowd of 20,000 sang along as Kelly, Andy Reid's successor, appeared onstage.
"Wow. Wow. ... I'm speechless," he said, amid an avalanche of cheers.
Biggest moment in Wing Bowl's two decades, declared Cataldi.
Kelly knows how fleeting such flattery can be, especially in a town like Philly.
A Super Bowl win would mean a Philadelphia celebration 1,000 times more wild than Wing Bowl, Kelly said. And that's saying quite a lot at such a circus.
"This is a great moment for all of us," Cataldi said.
Later in the morning, Eagles linebacker turned broadcaster Ike Reese expressed doubt that Reid ever attended. "He's a smart man," Reese said of Kelly. "He's off to a very good start."
Wing Bowl got off to a good start, too.
The morning began with the ceremonial tour of the arena floor by a live chicken, held in the lap of guy in a wheelchair, escorted by two tattooed Wingettes from Club Risque.
The insanely loud place was hard-rocked during commercial breaks by the Wing Bowl house band, a South Jersey group named Brotherfish, which won a Battle of the Bands last weekend.
Next was the parade, as the 27 eaters arrived with wacky props and costumes in hopes of diverting eyes from their waving Wingettes, who would later be handing the eaters paper plates full of P.J. Whelihan's chicken wings.
The processions were competing to win a dozen trips to a resort in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. A Harley Davidson motorcycle, awarded at the end of the morning's festivities, would be go to the best Wingette, chosen from the likes of Brittany, Jenna, Tricia, Talia, Justine, Airen, Gabrielle, Mary Jane, Tara, Beth, Deanna, Aleksandra, Becky, Courtney, Danae, Melinda, Bridiculous, Casey, Renee, Juliana, Deanna, Alexis and Alyse, and a bunch of Bacardi Girls. To name just a few.
Bam Bam Bigelow's group was first on the floor ... literally. as guys around a wrestling ring started tossing each other onto concrete normally covered by ice or a basketball floor.
Ukraine Train also had a boxing ring, but with a guy in a chicken costume throwing punches. South Jersey Keith had a kiddie pool and two Wingettes writhing in bath foam. Sgt. Home Wrecker hoisted a beer keg above his head in front of a U.S. flag. Farmer Bob came through sporting a pair of foam boobs and a sign that read, "Don't Touch the Melons." Eatorama, eh, just folks walking.
Eyes are also on the Jumbotron, to see if any women on camera in the crowd would reveal their, uh, Jumbotrons. Just as shirts got lifted, though, the camera usually moved away. At one point, an ad under the overhead video display flashed, "$500 off breast augmentation." Once, the camera picked up a guy somehow sleeping, despite a decibel level like a helicopter over a waterfall.
After a few floats ripped by the commentators came Wiz Kid standing aboard a dragon with flapping wings. Then Rob the Slob ... and Uncle Rico with an orange mini-truck that says, "Dallas sucks."
Next, in honor of Wing Bowl turning 21, Cataldi introduced Jayme, who turned 21 today, declaring she should have her first taste of booze before the soldout crowd, many of whom already had beer for breakfast.
"She's chugging the beer!" Cataldi bellowed. She drained the can to wild cheering, and then swore it was her first-ever taste of alcohol. "It's amazing!" she said.
Snack Jack tosses little bags of chips to the crowd ... Hog and Haas, yawn ... Skin & Bones has guys in yellow T-shirts ... yawn ...
"We have seen one good float in the first 12, 15 entries," Cataldi said, who then introduced Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos, this year's honorary Wing Bowl commissioner, decked out in a white suit and white hat.
The white suit got mentioned later as Tiger Wings & Things puked.
Gentleman Jerry had winged Wingettes sponsored by the Penthouse Club as "Girls, Girls, Girls" played.
In came a float labeled "Bynumland," and the crowd finally reacts, enjoyed the spoof, which features bowling pins, of Sixers sidelined center Andrew Bynum, who claimed he hurt himself bowling. U.S. Male, playing the part, fell down and grabbed his knee.
"Death to all but Super Squibb" proclaims a sign held by Not Rich, one of the heavy favorites in the local eaters part of the competition. Iceman's float had a tent-like igloo and an eagle ice sculpture.
Then came a commemoration of "the greatest vomit of all time," committed by a contestant named Sloth about a decade ago, according to Cataldi. The video played on the Jumbotron to great cheering, before Matt "Sloth" Dutton was inducted into the Wing Bowl Hall of Fame.
Next, boos rained down for the entrances of five eaters from other cities, in town to challenge three-time champ Jonathan Squibb in the top category for a $20,000 cash prize.
"Waneywonder" from New York gave double-barreled middle fingers to the crowd. People threw objects like cups and rally towels -- maybe worse -- at "Baby Face," who was representing Dallas and the hated Cowboys by wearing the jersey of a certain quarterback.
Wait ... "He ran away! It must be the playoffs! Tony Romo just disappeared," said Morganti.
Cheering reached a pre-Kelly peak with the entrance of Squibb, as Rick the Manager held up a ceremonial $20,000 check. Ben Franklin and Rocky were part of the largest entourage by far, as the "Superman" theme song played.
At some point, there was also the introduction of the "Ultimate Wingette," 27-year-old Morgan, who was chosen to receive free procedures from Bucks County plastic surgeon Robert Skalicky.
The National Anthem was sung by Casey Conklin, daughter of Joe Conklin, the morning show's resident comedian and impressionist. The Drexel student made a name for herself last fall singing on a video, "We Are Never Ever Gonna Win With Andy," a takeoff of a popular Taylor Swift song.
That, yes, all that, set up the start of the two-tiered eating contest.
But before the eating ended, some prizes were awarded. Best float/entourage was awarded to Dave "U.S. Male" Goldstein, of Voorhees, who also went on to win the all-local portion of the eating competition.
Interviews with the Top 10 Wingettes were apparently conducted by judges that included ex-Eagle Hollis Thomas, now a 94 WIP personality. Two finalists were selected -- Kristen and Alexandra -- and, later, after texted votes were tallied, Alexandra Warner, 20, of Allentown was declared the winner. She hopped onto her prize, a Harley Davidson.
For more on Wing Bowl, go to www.philly.com/philly/sports/wingbowl.