This year was my first time ever attending the traditional Flyers Wives Carnival and I'm happy with every second of the experience. Despite the immense crowds and long lines, everything was handled smoothly.
Now, I cannot stand people. Especially in large masses. It makes my anxiety fly through the roof and I become a real ogre. However I was able to keep myself under control and not punt the endless amounts toddlers running around at dangerously crotch levels.
I was a man on a mission. I wasn't there to meet Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger or even Claude Giroux (who I've met and hung out with in the Linc's parking lot prior to an Eagles game....be jealous). I was there to meet, greet and say hello to Daniel Carcillo.
"Christ, Mike, not another Carcillo Man-Crush article."
JUST LEAVE ME BE! I haven't had the opportunity to actually meet him in person yet. I've run into a handful of players in my day and since everyone's so damn convinced Carbomb's days are limited here in Philadelphia, I feared this would be my last chance.
When my girlfriend and I parked prior to entering the Wells Fargo Center, we were immediately exposed to a very, very depressing sight. As you know our beloved Spectrum has begun to be dismanteled and torn down. But once we were there to actually see the ruins of what was once the loudest and most intimidating arena in America's professional sports, it had become a major reality check.
It was like looking at something on the set of Escape From New York.
It was almost like you were expecting Mila Kunis and Denzel Washington to emerge from the rubble at gun point and one Gary Oldman demanding they give up the book.
Standing in the parking lot and facing the Well from the Fan Shop end, we noticed there were two lines; one on the left stretching as far back as almost Citizen's Bank Park and another just outside Will Call.
After further review and walking distances that would make Moses stop and look at a road map, I realized it was one line in the same! Thousands....THOUSANDS of fans circled the arena in a less than organized fashion, waiting there with posters, hockey sticks, helmets, gloves, apparel, magazines, photos....all to be signed by the players.
I had worn my Carcillo jersey and brought a Flyers license plate to be signed by...you know who. But some of these fans went all out.
I shit you not, one dude was carrying a full body size cardboard cutout of Chris Pronger. Another little girl was holding onto an uncountable amount of Danny Briere stuff. And the list went on and on.
Maybe it was my disheveled hair. Maybe it was my 3-week grown beard. Maybe it was the fact I was wearing sweatpants (and not the fashionable brand name sweatpants either), but I caught a few raised eyebrows as I passed people in line. Granted, I looked like a hobo. All I was missing was a jingling Dixie cup and B.O.
Once in line and then inside, I catch Al Morganti and Danny Briere behind a booth doing what looked like a radio interview to promote the event. To their left was an already gigantic crowd circling Jody Shelley and another Flyer who was playing a young fan in Wii Boxing.
As I got closer I noticed it was Mr. Carcillo battling it out and enjoying Nintendo's latest technoligical advancement.
The entire area was taped off to only a selected few, the players, gaurds and the lucky fan.
I hungout there for a bit, grabbed a free event program and began my way through the Carnival.
Exiting the concourse and into the ice level, our eyes fell on vendor booths, large crowds and even a Braydon Coburn manned dunk tank. All throughout the arena's seating sections were assigned autograph and photograph booths with listed Flyers. Each player took his seat at a station for an hour giving fans enough time to step in line and pay for the opportunity.
"Pay". I love how that word sometimes gets thrown around as if it's just as one-and-done as taking a breath.
For one, Early Admission tickets (which I highly recommend you rpurchase instead of regular admission) was not cheap. $37 per ticket holder. Next, to get a player's autograph you were forced to fork over another $15. That's just for one player's autograph. If it's your intent to get every single player's John Hancock then I hope you walk into the arena pooping twenties.
You think the price of an autograph is expensive? To get your picture taken in the booth with a player is $20 each. EEEEEACH!
Look, I'm all for this event and the team giving back to its fanbase, but these prices are ridiculous. It was $10 for two Diet Pepsi's. Do you have any idea what it costs Pepsi to make their cola product? Like, 5-cents a gallon. I'm not kidding. Then a reseller probably purchases that good at around $1 per gallon. Then they resell the soda to me for 100 Trillion percent profit, those corporate d-bags.
But, OH! It was time to head on over to some autograph sections. I waltzed up to Matt Carle's booth and he signed my license plate and his photo in the event program. As did Andrej Meszaros, who might I add, was a pleasure to meet. The man had this big smile on his face. When I thanked him for the signature he just grunted and grinned. Apparently I met Link from Encino Man.
My girlfriend got excited when she saw Laperrière signing from a booth. For the life of me I cannot figure out why she didn't want to wait in line for his autograph. "That's okay. Being around them is good enough for me," she said.
Then it was time to head on over to see and get Carcillo's blot. I thought getting there fifteen minutes before he was scheduled to arrive was smart. So did about sixty other people. The line stretched into the concourse and down two vendor lengths. I wasn't too far in the back, but lucky me I was standing adjacent to a mother pushing her child in a stroller.
The best was when (and now, I assume) the baby shit itself. Turned that section of the concourse into a bio hazard. Being dressed in stained sweatpants and sporting a hairdo that would make Tim Burton reach for the gel, I figured onlookers and smellers thought it was me. I mean, if I'm willing to leave the house looking like Joaquin Phoenix, what's stopping me from turning the hallway into my private quarters?
I can't help it. Each time I'm in the facinity of a fart, or in this case....a loaded diaper, I give off this "IT WAS ME!" demeanor. Maybe it's my inability to control my guilty conscience....I dunno.
Finally the line started moving and we were able to escape the mustard gas that child let out of his ass. It went pretty fast actually. You give your $15, walk up to a girl asking for whatever it is you want signed, Carcillo signs it and hands it back to you.
Simple enough, right?
But I'm guessing a star struck 240 pound full grown man with Bambi eyes could slow things down a bit. I stood there...
"What's up, Danny?"
::stands on tippy toes to see over the counter and watch him sign the '3' on my jersey::
"You're the best, man. Keep kicking ass."
"Thanks," as he hands me the jersey, the program, and the license plate.
I start my way to the right to exit the seating section. Steph, my girlfriend, met me below.
"Funny, you never look at me the way you looked at Carcillo," she mutters with one eyebrow up, hands on hips and a cracked smile. What can I say? The guy's my favorite Flyer.
TO THE PHOTO BOOTH!!!
Luckily my positioning in Carcillo's photo line was much better than what I got waiting for the autograph. I'm only a dozen or so from the first to get his/her picture taken, there's no infant to lethalize the breathable air around us, and I got to sit down for the first time in about two hours. The line formed in the 204A section seats.
The only issue I had was this lardass sitting behind me in line. Have you ever encountered someone who was loud, obnoxious, and (worst of all) he thought he was funny? Well tubby here was all three.
Every other word that flew from his mouth was "f*ck". I generally don't have a problem with this but there were kids seated all around us. I mean, come on man. Little Stevie came here to get in a picture with one of his favorite sports stars and here you are spouting off about, "Timonen's f*cking crazy f*cking great. Oh, f*ck me, IS THAT F*CKING LAVIOLETTE!?!"
It was like having a real life Bruce Boudreau shouting in your ear, only numbnuts had more chins.
Carcillo made his way into the photo booth and the line began to roll. When it was my turn to enter the booth, the curtain raised up, I handed my last $20 bill to the girl and gandered to my right. There was Dan seated on a stool not looking too happy to be there.
That didn't stop me from thanking him for the opportunity to get in a photo with him. He said, "No problem, man. Thanks for coming out."
"Ya know, you don't have to smile in the picture if you don't wanna," I told him.
"Well, I mean you're sitting here all damn day forcing a smile on your face. That's gotta be friggin miserable." This makes him chuckle and that's when the cameraman snapped the picture.
On the right you see a photo of Dan Carcillo and Walter Sobchak.
No, wait a minute....THAT'S ME? Holy hell in a hand basket, I hope to the heavens that camera guy was using a panoramic lense! LOOK AT ME! Seems Dan caught a photo with a beast fresh off the pages of Where The Wild Things Are.
I was hesitant to use this photo at first. Not because I'm trying to keep some sort of secret identity, but because that's just not how I look! At least I hope not. My God, I look like I should be driving a bus in an Adam Sandler film. Ugh, back to the gym I go....for 10 hours a damn day.
Anyways, I got my photo, I got my autographs and I had my fun. All in all, it was a great few hours spent in my day.
It may have been my first Flyers Wives Carnival, but it's certainly not my last. I just hope next time I go I have a bank account similar to Scrooge McDuck's because I'm gonna be eating Cup O' Noodle for breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least a month.