Ocean City and the Flyers made it hockey season in July. Team mascot Gritty, former players and a Flyers-affiliated team of disabled veterans greeted fans on Thursday in the Flyers Community Caravan.
Gritty and the caravan rolled into Ocean City for the second stop on their Caravan tour, which took place at the Ocean City Sports and Civic Center on the beach block of Sixth Street.
While the first half hour was reserved for Ocean City Recreation Department morning program participants, the event was open from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m for all ages.
Former Flyers Bob Kelly (1970-80), Brad March (1982-88) and Doug Crossman (1983-88) attended. They signed autographs and took photos with fans of all ages. The Caravan is a community outreach program designed to promote hockey and support youths.
Activities for the event included cornhole, a hockey shoot-around, an inflated bungee run, bubble hockey, Flyers merchandise giveaways, trivia, live music, and a hardest shot competition.
“I am a lifelong Flyers fan,” said Fred Cordery, who brought his daughter Jaiden to the first time event in Ocean City. “It’s great for the community, for them to come out with the alumni and bring Gritty.”
The high-energy mascot arrived in style with his own van and a “Grittyguard,” who remained vigilant to protect Gritty. Introduced in September 2018, Gritty quickly grew to become a fan favorite with ever-growing lore around him. Gritty arrived at 11:30 a.m. and greeted the crowd. He posed for photos and the line to meet him extended across the length of the event.
“Lots of fun, good to see the alumni,” said Flyers fan Bob Bender.
“I really loved seeing Gritty and getting my shirt signed,” said Bender’s son, Kyler.
The Philadelphia Flyers Warriors were also in attendance with a booth, handing out pamphlets and merchandise. The Flyers Warriors are a hockey team made up of disabled veterans. They are one of several teams affiliated with the USA Hockey’s Warrior Discipline. The program is dedicated to helping the injured and disabled military.
“Athletic rehabilitation is our way to bring veterans back together and rebuild camaraderie,” said Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Ed McEvoy. “We create a support system we had while on active duty that most of us lost coming back to civilian life.”
The fans that showed up for the Caravan seemed to rival Gritty’s energy, despite the 85-degree heat.
“It’s always hockey season for me,” said fan Eric Applegate. “Even in the summer.”