Gritty Claus helping spread Tinseltown cheer

East Passyunk received a big bundle of holiday cheer on a visit from a portly, jolly legendary figure.

It wasn’t St. Nick, as that bearded fellow isn’t due to slide down chimneys for another six weeks. This was the arrival of Gritty Claus, who visited the East Passyunk Community Center on Nov. 9 to spread cheer by surprising after-school children with tickets to a special Rec Center Night at Tinseltown at FDR Park.

Tinseltown, the one-of-a-kind winter wonderland experience, is moving to FDR Park this year from the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center fairgrounds in Oaks, Montgomery County, where it was held in years past.

It opens on Nov. 17 but Gritty Claus, the lovable holiday-themed Philadelphia Flyers mascot, was handing out tickets early at five South Philadelphia recreation centers for Rec Center Night, which will be on Nov. 30. His stop in East Passyunk brought about a ton of smiles.

“With Tinseltown’s move to FDR Park, engaging the local South Philly community was one of our top priorities,” said Joe Meade, Vice President of Government and External Affairs for Comcast Spectacor. “Distributing 500 tickets to our neighbors here in South Philly ensures that the magic of Tinseltown will be felt by the people closest to it. Bringing Tinseltown to South Philly is about more than just sharing holiday magic; it’s an opportunity to strengthen South Philly’s status as an entertainment destination for the region.”  

Gritty, the 7-foot orange furry mascot who took the city by storm five years ago upon his arrival, handed out tickets and Tinseltown gear to children at the East Passyunk Rec Center. But this wasn’t a one-time occurrence. Gritty will be making weekly visits to FDR Park during Tinseltown’s run, which goes through Jan. 1.

“No one can spread holiday cheer quite like Gritty Claus,” Meade said. “Gritty is an important part of Tinseltown with his weekly Friday visits, so it was a no-brainer to have him involved in this special surprise.”

Visitors of all ages will feel the magic of the holiday season as they stroll through a spectacle of lights in South Philly’s renowned FDR Park, check off their holiday shopping list, dine on festive treats and beverages, meet Santa Claus and much more. In addition to the new backdrop of FDR Park, Tinseltown this year will feature both brand-new activities and returning favorites that are sure to bring joy to every visitor.

This year there will be a brand new 13,000-square-foot Ice Trail for skaters through a breathtaking display of holiday lights. Reservations are recommended at the time of ticket purchase.

An expanded four-lane Ice Slide will provide thrills to both children and adults along a 160-foot-long ride. There will also be a Union Forge Tinsel Lodge, Photos with Santa and Storytime with Mrs. Claus.

Social events throughout late fall and early winter include Waggin’s Wednesdays, when guests can bring their leashed furry canine friends; Gritty Claus Nights, which will welcome Gritty Claus on every Friday in December; and  Sensory-Friendly Entry Times, when the park will host special, sensory-friendly entry times geared toward guests with autism and other sensory needs. These designated times will have limited capacity and the volume of our holiday music will be lowered to make the atmosphere more comfortable for our guests during these discounted entry times. Sensory nights are Dec. 1, 14 and 28, starting at 4 p.m. More special event nights will be announced at a later time.

“We are absolutely thrilled to bring Tinseltown to South Philly’s FDR Park this holiday season,” Meade said. “With Tinseltown’s spectacular light displays, special holiday experiences, festive treats and more, visitors to Tinseltown are sure to create priceless holiday memories and a new tradition.”

Tickets are now on sale at starting at $15.99. At the time of purchase, visitors will be asked to select an entry time. With sell-outs of the most popular dates and times anticipated, visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets early. Guests visiting Tinseltown on Santa Savings Days, Monday through Thursday, can expect the full Tinseltown experience at a lower cost.  

South Philly’s FDR park is a perfect match for Tinseltown’s 9-acre footprint that will showcase breathtaking light sculptures and displays powered by more than 2.5 million light bulbs and larger-than-life sculptures, including a 60-foot light tunnel, glowing baubles and, of course, Santa’s sleigh. Tinseltown will also showcase some of Philadelphia’s most beloved landmarks and personalities in lights, including the Liberty Bell, illuminations representing Philly sports teams. It brings a holiday flare to new attractions popping up in the area.

“The revitalization of South Philadelphia is incredible, from the city’s investment in FDR Park and our $400 million transformation of the New Wells Fargo Center to the Navy Yard and the Bellwether District,” Meade said. “There is amazing energy here in South Philly, and we’re excited to bring even more attractions to this part of the city.”