When I was 15, I would’ve died for the chance to meet my idol (at the time, those idols were typically members of boy bands or actors in teen movies). My parents laughed at the idea of shelling out 200, maybe 300 dollars for a quick opportunity to meet a celebrity.
And then Claude Giroux scored an OT goal against the Winnipeg Jets and my whole life changed.
After that moment, my “idols” were the Philadelphia Flyers (and other players around the league – I’m looking at you Johnny Gaudreau) as I became completely enamored with the sport.
Unlike how it is with celebrities, meeting your idols is a lot easier when they’re professional athletes in your home city.
The Flyers Wives Carnival is a great example of that.
Currently in its 42nd year, the Flyers Wives Carnival is an event that gives fans the chance to meet different people in the Flyers organization: players, coaches, sometimes even Ron Hextall makes an appearance. You can take a tour of the locker room, you can take a shot on Wells Fargo Center ice, or you can wander around in an attempt to find Gritty. All the proceeds from the event go to charity and, according to the Flyers website, the event has raised over 27 million dollars in its 42 years of operation.
The Carnival is surprisingly affordable. An admission ticket is $25 for anyone over 12 years old. It costs $40 to get a “sign & snap” ticket, which ensures you get a picture and two signed items with a player. On top of that, it costs $20 to play a game with a player (which almost always guarantees a photo and signature as well).
Today, at the Carnival, I met Shayne Gostisbehere, Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, and Jake Voracek. It only cost me $65 to do it.
I met Shayne Gostisbehere at one of the games ($20 mini golf), Carter Hart at the outdoor inflatables (free), and both Ivan Provorov and Jake Voracek were at giant pong at the end of the day ($20 for both of them).
But, besides showing you how affordable the Carnival makes it to meet your favorite athletes, let me tell you about how I went about the day.
My friend and I got there around 11:15. which was around a half hour later than we wanted, but the Philly marathon was going on, which made navigating through the city difficult.
We walked around the lower level and the mezzanine at first, seeing who was around. I have to admit, it’s a bit weird just seeing the Flyers walking around. I passed Brian Elliot a few times, passed Oskar Lindblom twice, and saw Dale Weise at almost every turn.
After that, almost immediately, we got in line to play mini golf with Ghost. But, really, everyone skipped over the mini golf, instead opting for a picture and a signature. However, when the child in front of me asked to play golf, Ghost’s face lit up.
My friend and I had some time to kill before we wanted to try to meet Jake and Provy, so we wandered around again. We found Gritty who was flocked by a crowd of people. It was so bizarre, to see that more people were following Gritty than were in line to meet some of the Flyers.
We went outside, deciding to wait to meet some Phantoms players. As soon as they came out, about half the parking lot flooded over to Carter Hart. It was nowhere near as organized as meeting the Flyers was. There was no line, people just shoved forward against a metal gate, trying to meet Hart. It took a while to meet him, but when you meet a player for free, waiting in a crowd isn’t too bad.
After that, my friend and I sat in the seats and waited. It was around 1:30 and we wanted to meet Voracek and Provorov at 2:30. My friend thought I was insane for bringing her to get in line at 2, but it ended up being exactly what we needed. It took almost 20 minutes of time to get to where my friend and I were and the line was incredibly long behind us.
After that, my friend was practically in shock. She had been following Provorov’s development since he was drafted. That afternoon, she finally had a chance to meet her favorite Flyer. She was completely in shock, so much so that I could only laugh.
What other events are there where you can meet your favorite player/celebrity and even play games for only $20? If you find one in Philadelphia, let me know.
I decided to end this with my advice for the Carnival because it can be a bit overwhelming (I mean, out of nowhere Gritty and his entourage of fans can emerge):
- Manage your time like your life depends on it. Unless you have pre-sale sign & snap tickets, nothing is guaranteed. 15 to 30 minutes is a solid estimate if you want to meet the more popular players.
- Be friendly. You never know who could be wandering around on a day like the Carnival. Could be an executive, could be a player’s girlfriend, could be a stranger. This is just good life advice – be friendly.
- Lastly: bring an extra sharpie. The first time I met Jake Voracek, I was in a line that was too long to meet him and he had to leave. Well, I stepped right in front of him and asked him to sign my jersey. He didn’t have a sharpie on him and his “handlers” or whatever were yelling at him for stopping him, so there wasn’t time to look for a sharpie. But I had my sharpie, so I got my jersey signed quickly.
Anyone in the Philadelphia area, I definitely recommend going to the Carnival. All the money goes to great causes around Philadelphia and you get to meet professional athletes. Really, it’s a win-win.