PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been a few weeks since the Flyers’ new mascot made his big debut. After an early mixed reaction, Philadelphia has come to embrace Gritty.
The strong, conflicting reactions were quite a different response to the one Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic and creator of Gritty, experienced 40 years ago when the Phillies’ mascot was introduced to fans.
In 1978, the Phanatic was quietly born into the Phillies organization and was received generously by fans.
“It was like it happened yesterday — a little bit frightened when I went out there but there was no negative feedback in the beginning. But that’s because the Phillies just kind of slipped the Phanatic out there without a lot of hoopla,” Raymond says. “I went out there and I guess they thought some guy built the Phanatic costume in his garage and sent him out there.”
The decision to create the Flyers’ mascot was made after years of planning and development. The process of creating Gritty began with a simple meeting with the Flyers Organization.
With his previous experience as the Phanatic, Raymond immediately recognized that the new mascot would have to work harder to be accepted than the Phillies’ beloved mascot.
The “loveable monster”, as Raymond calls him, was predicted to be a success though since the Flyers were committed.
“If the organization’s not committed, it won’t work,” Raymond explains. The Flyers made it clear that Gritty’s main goal was youth development and community initiatives.
And while the initial reaction was fairly negative, Raymond and the Flyers organization had expected that negativity. Armed with a battle plan, they embraced the unfavorable feedback and used it to their advantage. When mean tweets were sent, Gritty was immediately able to take those messages with ease and reply in funny manners.
“He’s gritty, he’s tough, and he can take it,” the mastermind says as to why Gritty has become such a success for the NHL team.
According to Raymond, the purpose of a mascot is to create fun to make people happier and more productive and Gritty has been living up to his destiny.
Instantly famous, the mascot has resonated with Philadelphians and has cemented his new legacy in the community.