Phillie Phanatic’s rant gives Kent a gritty reply

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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Dave Raymond, the man who brought life to the Phillie Phanatic 40 years ago and more recently ushered in the Flyers’ wild-eyed, orange Gritty, was in Dover on Friday.

Speaking to guests of the annual Kent County tourism luncheon and awards ceremony, he described his off-centered life as a mascot and the importance of having fun.

His tales of the Phanatic’s start, with Mr. Raymond wearing the suit as an intern from the University of Delaware, and the Phanatic’s reputation today as the top mascot in sports, drew quite a few laughs.

Gritty offered a few more, starting with his fall on the ice in his debut.

“He got hammered by the fans,” said Mr. Raymond. “Gritty said, ‘How come no one told me the ice was going to be this slippery.’

“Then the tide turned when the Penguins mascot said in a dismissive quote, ‘LOL, OK.’

“Then Gritty countered, ‘Sleep with one eye open tonight bird.’

“And we said, ‘Yea, he’s our ugly … you can’t call him ugly. He’s our ugly.’”

Mr. Raymond, who earlier had talked about visiting the Monster Mile and attending the Firefly Music Festival, then applied Gritty’s charm to Kent County.

“For you,” Mr. Raymond asked the audience in Dover, “what’s negative that everyone says about Kent County?”

Only a few second passed before a guest blurted out, “There’s nothing to do here.”

Mr. Raymond dramatically snapped.

“You know what, if you don’t like racing, if you don’t like to dance, if you don’t like great music, and you don’t like beautiful vistas and you don’t like to relax …”

The words were flying, like the feet of a mascot trying to stand on ice for the first time, and he referenced a New Yorker who would rather be there and risk life.

“Well,” he said, “then don’t come here!

“We don’t want you here because you don’t get it.”

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It was about 8:01 p.m. Tuesday when the Associated Press sent a bulletin out that Tom Carper had won his fourth election to the U.S. Senate.

As in years past, it is not unusual for races to be called.

When the Delaware State News posted the information shortly after on its Facebook page, readers quickly cried foul. Then the angry face emoji numbers and likes rolled up.

“How can this be called 15 minutes after the polls close and no precincts reporting?”

“How can you all report this when the votes haven’t all been calculated?”

One person even said the Delaware State News was too lazy to wait for the votes to come in before reporting the outcome.

The post about Carper’s win was a news bulletin that the Associated Press released.

The AP used survey data, compiled between Oct. 29 and Nov. 6, as part of its “VoteCast” project this year in calling the U.S. Senate race. The AP said 786 voters and 224 non-voters were surveyed by NORC at the University of Chicago.

In prior years, the AP used “exit polls.”

A good number of our readers said it simply came down to the disproportionate number of Democrats in the state, and some said Kent and Sussex just do not have the population to go up against New Castle County.

Some of the questions were designed to take the temperature of voters on national politics. Not surprisingly, party politics seemed to be evident in many of Delaware’s races.

“For 35 percent of Delaware voters, President Donald Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes,” the AP said. “By comparison, 20 percent said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and 44 percent said they voted to express opposition to Trump.

“A majority of voters in Delaware had negative views of Trump: 61 percent said they disapprove of how he is handling his job as president, while 39 percent said they approve of Trump.”

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Return Day – Delaware’s 200-year-old tradition post-election tradition – was featured in a “last thing before we go” segment on the “11th Hour with Brian Williams” Thursday night on MSNBC.

Mr. Williams described the gathering in the “most southern and most conservative Delaware county” in the state and lauded its rituals of civility.

“It is politics, after all, so the losing politicians do have to sit backwards in the parade carriages that take them through town,” he said. “That along with some teasing, light booing and occasional scattered hissing is about as rough as it ever gets.”

He described the burying of the hatchet in sand and how the sheriff is there to keep things orderly.

“There is one unforgivable offense – you don’t call it Returns Day,” said Mr. Williams. “Do not put an “s” on it.”

***

And, one last thing before I go … Delawareans sure delight in the burying of the hatchet in the Sussex sand.

But there is one great mystery to solve:

Who keeps digging it back up?

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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