With the games of the XXXI Olympiad nearly a week old already, I began to reflect on how fortunate countries and host cities must feel when hearing their names announced as the centerpiece of the pageant. Because our city scored a visit from Pope Francis last September and wrapped the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago, I pondered what kind of celebration that South Philadelphia would hold if the International Olympic Committee were to stage any action here. With my imagination running wild, I thought of these 10 activities that athletes would need to do in order to have an authentic South Philly experience.
10) Have a cheesesteak: I figured I would put this one out there right away since the competitors are essentially tourists and what tourists have not heard about sampling South Philly’s cheesesteak wares? I will refrain from recommending particular sites because 1) I don’t eat cheesesteaks and therefore have no preference and 2) each location could use a nice bump.
9) Frequent our stores: Yes, a trip or two to Center City might prove compelling, but I would love for local establishments to receive a commercial boost. No matter their hankering, athletes would certainly thrill residents by grabbing goodies outside the Olympic Village or off a yacht, right, U.S.A. Basketball representatives?
8) Take the Broad Street Subway: Since I envision a great deal of the hoopla happening in the Stadium Complex area, I would enjoy rubbing elbows with performers as Broad Street Subway passengers once a day’s events are done and we are all looking for a different sort of levity.
7) Grab a copy of the South Philly Review: Olympic Games run for just over two-week periods, giving the visitors two chances to see how the local paper chronicles their endeavors. What an assignment covering any event for this publication would make!
6) Go to the Melrose Diner: “Everybody who knows goes to Melrose.” Who would dare to argue with such a timeless slogan? Here’s hoping that in pondering dietary selections, athletes can bail on kale at least once during their stay and let the Melrose Diner folks give them a little South Philly hospitality.
5) Tour the Mummers Museum: I would hope the International Olympic Committee would use all of South Philly’s viable spaces for competition, meaning Pennsport would receive some ample love. I know these hypothetical games would come in the summer, but the powers that be should strike up a great relationship with cultural institutions and give them their due through organized trips, including a stop at the venue that honors our winter heroes, the Mummers Museum.
4) Join a game of stickball: So many of these star figures would be draped in Nike apparel, so I am going to extend the company’s “Just Do It” slogan to any thoughts our guests have about trying out “our” sport, stickball. How I would love to witness professionals flailing away as youngsters throw fastballs at them.
3) Venture along East Passyunk Avenue: I lived on the thoroughfare for 25 months from 2004 to ’06, and I cannot say that I found it very impressive. The ensuing decade has proven quite profitable for the expanse, and I would bet my life savings (We are talking big bucks, folks, ha!) that the chefs along the avenue could best all of the Olympic Village food preparers. Along with enjoying fascinating fare, the sporting royals would certainly find some interesting characters ready to sing their praises and secure an autograph.
2) See a Phillies game: The men and women of summer should certainly see the boys of summer. I am not sure how Major League Baseball would even handle the Phillies schedule, but I suspect it would send the club out of town for the international squads to use Citizens Bank Park. If the overseers could somehow keep our boys home, I am sure very few of us (Am I crazy for typing this?) would mind a few extra traffic jams as fans gawk at the most conditioned individuals on the planet.
1) Visit the Ninth Street Italian Market: Many people might argue that my tenth selection should go here, but something as time-tested as the Olympic Games should encourage its representatives to pay homage to another fan of fending off opinions that its best days are long gone, the Ninth Street Italian Market. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know this collection of musings is the epitome of a pipedream, but, much like every athlete who envisions donning gold, I refuse to let the odds be disheartening hurdles. Go, Team U.S.A.! ■
Contact Editor Joseph Myers at email@example.com or ext. 124.