Snowball Santa Celebrates 40th Anniversary - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Snowball Santa Celebrates 40th Anniversary

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Snowball Santa Celebrates 40th Anniversary
    AP

    While many Americans are telling their kids stories about someone up on the housetop, Philadelphia fans still crack up about a timeless tale of their own.

    The setting for this tale is a snow-covered Franklin Field on Dec. 15, 1968. The last-place Eagles were hosting the Minnesota Vikings en route to a 2-12 season. If any of the gathered Eagles fans had the playoffs on their wish lists, those wishes were doomed.

    The field was blanketed with fresh snow that had just come through the region. As the 54,535 fans flooded into the stadium, they merrily wore "Joe Must Go" buttons in honor of coach Joe Kuharich, who hadn’t recorded the first win of the season until the team’s twelfth game.

    The conditions on the field that day were decent enough for a football game, though unrealistic for the scheduled halftime Christmas Pageant. But, as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on.

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    Frank Olivo was the man who donned the Santa suit in 1968 on the day that Philly fans became forever known for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus.
    (Published Monday, Dec. 15, 2008)

    Scanning the stands, 19-year-old Frank Olivo was spotted wearing a Santa suit. Olivo was pulled from the stands and invited to circle the field in lieu of the holiday floats.

    Olivo -- fake beard hanging from his face, suit disheveled -- began jogging between two rows of cheerleaders.

    Loaded with the artillery from the fresh snowfall, the crowd unleashed an arsenal of snowballs and boos at the unsuspecting Olivo, as fans unleashed a season's worth of frustration on him.

    Forty years later, Eagles fans can look back on that day with a sense of catharsis.

    As bad as that ’68 team was, their two wins were just enough to give the Buffalo Bills the top pick in the next season's NFL Draft, which gave them Hall-of-Famer-turned-felon, O.J. Simpson.

    The moral of the story for Philadelphia is, trust your gut. The moral for Andy Reid and the 2008 Eagles is, be thankful there is no snow in the forecast for Monday night's game.