#whyilovephilly — The team spirit

     Philadelphia Flyers Bernie Parent, left, and Bobby Clarke, carry the Stanley Cup off the ice in  Buffalo on May 28, 1975, after winning over the Buffalo Sabres. (AP Photo, file)

    Philadelphia Flyers Bernie Parent, left, and Bobby Clarke, carry the Stanley Cup off the ice in Buffalo on May 28, 1975, after winning over the Buffalo Sabres. (AP Photo, file)

    On May 27, 1975 the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup. The city was alive with excitement. A great outpouring was unleashed throughout the city of Brotherly Love: tears of joy; fans into the streets; celebratory beers into frosted mugs in corner taverns all over town. Even in the more reserved neighborhoods of the Main Line suburbs, citizens emerged from their idyllic, Rockwellian homes, banging pots and pans, and dancing with joy in the tree-lined streets.

    That is how I imagined it happened, anyway. I wasn’t born until four years later.

    Why do you love Philly? NewsWorks is helping to sponsor an event on Dec. 6 celebrating all that’s great about this city. We want to know what you love. Tell us in an essay to publish on NewsWorks. Tell us on Twitter for a chance to win food and beverage tickets for the party (hashtag #whyilovephilly).

    On May 27, 1975, the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup. The city was alive with excitement. A great outpouring was unleashed throughout the City of Brotherly Love: tears of joy; fans into the streets; celebratory beers into frosted mugs in corner taverns all over town. Even in the more reserved neighborhoods of the Main Line suburbs, citizens emerged from their idyllic, Rockwellian homes, banging pots and pans, and dancing with joy in the tree-lined streets.

    That is how I imagined it happened, anyway. I wasn’t born until four years later, so I don’t actually remember any of this.

    But May 27, 1975, also happened to be my mother’s first day in the United States. Like many children of immigrants, my story is inseparable from my parents’; their memories forever intertwined with my own. I recall her describing to us that night she first made her way “down the Line” on Lancaster Avenue, as a passenger in a car, and seeing the massive celebrations unfolding on each block. The radio announcer crackling through the car’s speakers could barely contain his excitement (“I couldn’t believe it. I think he was crying,” she told us), and just like that, my mother was introduced into one of the most important aspects of what it is to be a true Philadelphian: being a Philadelphia sports fan.

    She was a young woman in her early 20s from Ireland who came to the United States for two reasons: work and a guy. The guy was my father, who had emigrated a few years prior. At this point, they were engaged and set to be married back in Ireland the following September.

    They were able to find steady employment in the homes of the Main Line’s ultra-wealthy. My mother worked in the home of an heiress to the Tabasco sauce fortune. My father tended the grounds of the legendary Julius Erving’s vast property. The young crop of Irish workers who arrived in the early to mid-70s were mostly welcomed by Philadelphia’s Main Liners, many of whom felt some kinship with the Emerald Isle, despite (or maybe because of) their own primarily Anglo-Saxon backgrounds.

    Ice hockey was not, and still is not, the domain of the Irish; however, celebrations are. My mother must have felt some connection with the jovial scene that greeted her in her new hometown. Almost 39 years later, she and my father have raised and educated their three children in this city. They have become grandparents for the first time in this city. And, perhaps most poignantly, over the years my mother has become a serious, die-hard Flyers fan. She bleeds orange, which could be a little awkward for a Catholic from the north of Ireland.

    The spirit, the determination, the loyalty — these are the values that my mother holds dear. Philadelphia’s welcoming party on May 27, 1975, showed her she might just like it here.

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