2018 has been a year of wild contrasts for Philadelphia, encapsulating both glorious victories and bitter defeats, and you’ve read about all of them in Metro. As we brace ourselves for the new year, we take a look back at the biggest stories that impacted our lives and city.
Just another year?
January started off with bone-chilling temperatures with a low of four (4) degrees Fahrenheit on January 7th, but during the depths of winter, a fire was burning in Philadelphians’ hearts as the Eagles made the playoffs. All eyes were on the Birds for the month of January, as game by game and play by play, the underdogs advanced and crushed every opponent despite having lost their starting quarterback Carson Wentz to an ACL tear one month. The loss of Wentz that literally had some football fans calling into Sports Radio WIP in tears, fearing the Eagles’ sterling performance couldn’t possibly continue as impressively as it had.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ winning play ends Super Bowl LII, outflanking Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots. (Getty Images)
Super Bowl LII goes down in history as the first-ever Super Bowl win for the underdog Eagles who crushed bookie favorite, New England Patriots, 41-33, in a match-up that can only be described as epic. All other news drowned to a dull roar as the celebrations of victory washed over the city, including the spontaneous city wide marches and parades across the city by thousands of delirious fans, including from river to river and Washington Ave to Vine Parkway the night of the game. In the following weeks there were even more parades, celebrations, wave upon wave of shared bliss and ecstasy coursed over the city of Philadelphia, culminating but not ending in the massive Eagles three-mile victory parade down the Parkway days after the Super Bowl win, attended by thousands.
A brutal nor’easter struck Philadelphia and the region in March 2018. (Nicolaus Czarnecki)
The winter was marked by a brutal Nor’easter that turned life into a freezing and treacherous landscape for many Philadelphia-area residents. The unexpectedly brutal storm swooped in on Friday, March 2 and rapidly escalated as commuters languished as SEPTA stations and Regional Rail lines were delayed or cancelled. The storm also brought down hundreds of trees around Philadelphia – some of which landed on SEPTA buses – and one of which fell into traffic in Upper Merion and killed the driver inside, a 57-year-old optician. Around 616,000 people lost power in the Philadelphia area. Across the entire Northeast, it was just as bad – 2.2 million lost electricity, more than 4,000 flights were canceled and Amtrak service through the region was canceled.
The Starbucks Incident
Viral video showed the arrest of two black men in a Center City Starbucks. (Provided)
Philadelphia was put under the national microscope for racial bias in April after a customer at a Starbucks in Center City posted cellphone video online of two black men being cuffed and arrested after a manager called police on them simply for not buying anything in the coffee shop while waiting to meet a business acquaintance. The incident escalated to a national crisis over racial relations and dynamics in public places. Starbucks took much of the blame for the incident as their store’s manager called police and accused the two men of trespassing; the Seattle-based coffee chain shut all of its locations down nationwide for a company wide implicit bias training for employees. Conversely, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized for the incident, and the department has since adopted new protocols on how to evaluate and respond to reports of trespassing.
Meek Mill hits the Liberty Bell after being released from incarceration on a controversial probation violation. (Getty Images)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was also in April that Philly rapper Meek Mill, who got national attention for being re-incarcerated on a probation violation in late 2017 – receiving a longer sentence for the violations than the original decade-old crime the probation related to – was released after months of outcry and legal wrangling. The night he was ordered freed by a higher court pending appeal of his original conviction, Mill rang the Liberty Bell at opening of that night’s Sixers game.
More Catholic scandals
Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro announces the results of the investigatory grand jury report on sexual abuse within the Catholic church. (Provided)
In August, the Roman Catholic church was rocked in Pennsylvania and across the world by even more revelations of sexual predators concealed within the clergy in Pennsylvania – whose depredations on young victims were horrifyingly covered up by upper-ranking church officials and even in some cases allegedly allowed to continue to prey on new victims. Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro released an investigatory grand jury report created over two years investigating Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses – except Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, which had already been investigated – and reporting on roughly 300 predator priests and their estimated 1,000 victims over the past five decades. The full ramifications of the report worldwide have not yet been made clear – a global meeting of archbishops at the Vatican on how to respond to the sex abuse epidemic within the church, sparked in large part by the Pennsylvania report, is scheduled for February 2019.
Bill Cosby’s mugshot after entering state custody to serve three to 10 years for sexual assault. (Provided)
Bill Cosby was marched out of court in shackles after a judge branded him a “predator” and sentenced him to between three and 10 years at the State Correctional Instituition Phoenix in Skippack, PA for sexual assault, capping the downfall of the once-beloved comedian known as “America’s Dad.” Cosby, 81, was found guilty in April on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of his one-time friend Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator, at his Philadelphia home in 2004. He was the first celebrity to be convicted of sexual abuse since the start of the #MeToo movement, the national reckpning with misconduct that has brought down dozens of pwerful men in entertainment, politics, and other fields.”
The Philadelphia Flyers’ Gritty, a sports mascot like no other. (Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Flyers unleashed their new mascot on the world in September, and the world has never been quite the same since. Half-lovable Sesame Street creature, half-nightmare; adopted as an icon by Antifa and the oppressed working class, but also worshipped by the avant-garde cultural elites who put him on the cover of Artforum magazine; representing a hockey team on the ice, but all of Philadelphia’s quintessential, undistillable, inexplicably enigmatic and mysterious identity to a cold and unfeeling world, three months after his appearance, one could argue that Gritty is all things to all people. Ironically, the Flyers have stunk so bad on the ice this season that the team fired manager Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol; but off the rink, they’re the best-known team in the NHL right now, and their 2018-19 season will be remembered forever.