Snowballs at Santa Claus: adding context to history 53 years later
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. December 15th marked the fateful day that Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus, altering the very history of Philadelphia fandom forever.
I know it’s quite possibly the most tired narrative in sports history, but as a lifelong Eagles fan, I feel the need to go back and look at what really happened at Franklin Field. The Snowballs at Santa incident cemented Philly fans’ reputation across the country. But was it really deserved?
What bothers me most is that the context of that incident is never brought up. Very few fans outside of Philadelphia are aware that the man dressed as Santa Claus was drunk, that the real Santa Claus was not in attendance, or that the team currently sat at 2-11.
That’s right, folks. Philly fans didn’t even throw snowballs at actual Santa Claus. The actor hired to play Saint Nick was stuck in North Jersey due to a severe blizzard. As a result, the Eagles asked a random guy named Frank Olivo, who was dressed in a Santa suit at the game, to fill in.
The organization failed to properly evaluate the facts. This was a 20-year-old guy dressed as Santa at an Eagles game in 1968. How do you not consider the fact this guy was most likely wasted an hour before the game started? And they expected him to perform as Santa Claus at the halftime Christmas pageant? Absurd.
Eagles fans had every right to throw snowballs at this guy. The team sucked ass all year, they battled through the snow to get there, and they’re greeted by a Santa Claus drunker than they are. That’s incredibly insulting.
Also, don’t feel bad for the guy, either. If I was hammered at the Linc in the modern age, dressed as Santa, and I got pelted with snowballs, It’d be a memory (or lack thereof) that I’d cherish forever.
Yet, the Santa Claus Debacle lives on…
Despite these facts, the reputation of being insane, violent, and dangerous persists today. Other fan bases can fight each other in the stands and scream obscenities at children, but those incidents are only granted a day or two of coverage and nothing more.
Meanwhile, the Snowballs at Santa Claus incident still gets brought up on a seemingly weekly basis. Hell, I’m doing it right now. If you’re sick of seeing the Santa Claus debacle brought up but clicked on this article, I’ve already won.
For the record, I would definitely rock this fit at a birds game. Stay tuned.
Mandatory Credit: Boston Globe