Gritty is an inexorable force of chaos and Capitol Hill got to witness the full breadth of the mascot’s antics on Wednesday morning.
From tying up a Penguins fan with an extension cord, to yanking the shirt over the head of a congressman, Gritty was anything but predictable at the 2019 Hockey Day on the Hill event.
Gritty, the manic, bright orange, dead-eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot who took the hockey world by storm last September, had no mercy for any taunting Penguins fans that were at the event.
The mascot was demonstrating shooting skills for a group of middle school students when an adult Penguins fan jokingly chanted Sidney Crosby’s name. Gritty pelted the man with the ball.
Peeved by another Pens fan, Gritty suddenly stalked over to one side of the room and started pulling at some of the wires on the ground. When Gritty stomped back to the Pens fan, he walked past Slapshot.
Slapshot, who is good and innocent and would never dream of shooting a member of the ice crew point-blank with a t-shirt cannon, gave Gritty an encouraging slap on the back before looking down and…oh no.
Gritty was dragging an extension cord on the floor behind him with menace in his orange googly eyes.
The Flyers mascot used the cord to securely tie up the Pens fan before sending him off with a kick to the rear.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) February 6, 2019
Here are some of the other antics Gritty got up to during the event.
US Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked for a photo with Gritty, but made the mistake of doing so while wearing his Chicago Blackhawks jersey. Gritty charmed Quigley closer and then yanked the congressman’s jersey right over his head.
Gritty found a discarded sign from a previous event in a corner of the room and insisted that one of the attendees fan him with the sign.
Gritty photobombed 2018 US Olympic gold medalist Haley Skarupa during a television interview.
Gritty also met up with a fan of his own.
Lauren Smith, a Philadelphia native who dressed up as Gritty last Halloween, couldn’t pass up the chance to see her hometown mascot in person and in costume.
It’s impossible to say what Gritty was thinking when he saw Smith in her costume. Maybe he felt a kinship. Maybe it was love.
He stared at Smith and poked at her belly before standing to hug her, fist raised in furry orange victory. Then he planted a smooch right on her mouth and led her off by the hand to show her to Slapshot and the NJ Devil, who were also at the event.
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Smith said that her admiration of Gritty definitely stems from Gritty’s embodiment of the Philadelphia spirit.
“I think it’s a mix, it’s definitely hometown pride. Seeing the initial reception to him, folks sort of wrote him off and then wound up embracing him in this very big way,” Smith said. “It’s helped me feel proud of my city and I think it represents the Philadelphia ethos of keeping going even if folks don’t take you seriously as you might wish, and turning out to be amazing.”
“And then he started to embody some political things as well, fighting for the everyday American. It’s unusual to see a sports mascot wind up having a political association,” Smith said, referring to Gritty being used as a protest symbol against far-right extremism.
Smith said she was excited when she finally got the chance to meet Gritty while wearing her costume. “I feel like I follow his antics regularly so to get to see him in person and get to interact was exciting.”
And what about the kiss?
Smith laughed. “My fiance was standing right there, he seemed a little jealous but like he understood.”
It’s good to be Gritty.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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