Loyal fans tailgate Jim Gardner’s final newscast at Action News studio

Listen 1:31
Roughly a dozen people arrived in a Target parking lot across from the 6abc Action News Studio on Dec. 21, 2022 for a tailgate honoring Jim Gardner's last show on the desk. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Roughly a dozen people arrived in a Target parking lot across from the 6abc Action News Studio on Dec. 21, 2022 for a tailgate honoring Jim Gardner's last show on the desk. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

For more than 40 years, 6abc’s Jim Gardner has been welcomed into the homes of Philadelphians through his evening newscast.

On Wednesday, he signed off for the last time and fans celebrated his long career the best way they knew how … a tailgate party, right across the street from the studio.

Roughly a dozen people arrived in a Target parking lot across from the 6abc Action News Studio on Dec. 21, 2022 for a tailgate honoring Jim Gardner’s last show on the desk. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Chris Miko has been planning the tailgate for more than a year and said he wanted to honor the man who he called a staple of the community.

“Philly’s a very tough, connected city,” Miko said. “Everyone loves each other. You know, everyone hates us, but we all love each other. That’s all that matters, and Jim gets it. Jim captures the spirit of the city.”

Tailgate organizer Chris Miko (pictured right) got to shake hands with the man himself Wednesday night in the Target parking lot. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

More than a dozen loyal and long-time fans of the news anchor gathered Wednesday to watch Gardner’s final signoff and reflect on his legacy.

“He’s like everybody’s grandpa, almost like everybody’s uncle. He’s like a familiar, friendly face,” said tailgater, Gwenn Vilade, who said she was going to miss coming home and seeing Gardner each night on the news.

Gwenn Vilade says Gardner’s like ”everybody’s grandpa,” and is going to miss seeing him anchor the broadcasts. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

That friendly face paid a visit to the tailgate right before going on-air. Speaking with WHYY, Gardner reflected on the love he’s received from his colleagues and viewers.

“It’s the end of a long journey for me,” Gardner said. “Everybody is being so incredibly positive and nice, but come tomorrow it’s going to be a new phase of life for me, so it’s complicated.”

Roughly a dozen people arrived in a Target parking lot across from the 6abc Action News Studio on Dec. 21, 2022 for a tailgate honoring Jim Gardner’s last show on the desk. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

And what’s next for Gardner after the camera fades to black?

“We’ve got a couple of projects, you know, that we’re working on,” Gardner said. “You’ve got to keep your mind busy, you know, and you got to maintain your curiosity … There’s some things that I want to do, and so that’s going to kick in the not too distant future, along with watching a lot of basketball and enjoying things that I haven’t been able to do.”

To honor his legacy, the 4100 block of Monument Road, where the Action News Studio is located, will now be known as Jim Gardner Way.

Chris Foley drove from around State College, Pa. to make it to the tailgate on Dec. 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal