What happened with the little Billy Penn statue on the Comcast Center?

Did the storms knock him down and reinstate the Curse of Billy Penn? Is that why the teams are so bad now? An investigation.

Billy Penn statue
YouTube screenshot

The Phillies had the worst record in Major League Baseball last summer. The Sixers’ process is taking forever. The Eagles hired and fired Chip Kelly.

Add up the ineptitude and factor in the numerous storms Philadelphia has experienced the last several years, from Hurricane Sandy to the Blizzard of 2016, and the question needs to be asked: Is the miniature statue of Billy Penn still on top of the Comcast Center?

Comcast placed the statue on its highest beam to remove the Curse of Billy Penn. Before the construction of One and Two Liberty Place in the 1987, the statue of William Penn atop City Hall was the highest point of Philadelphia. Starting that year, Philadelphia professional sports teams began a long championship drought. Many fans believed the city had been cursed because the statue no longer ruled the sky. The same year Comcast was completed, with the miniature statue on top, the Phillies won the World Series.

And though the fortune of Philly’s sports teams have changed, the Little Billy statue has stayed put. Comcast provided this recent picture in which the statue appears to be in similar to shape what it was in 2008.

Top: Miniature Billy Penn statue in 2008; Bottom: Miniature Billy Penn Statue from this winter.

Top: Miniature Billy Penn statue in 2008; Bottom: Miniature Billy Penn Statue from this winter.

YouTube Screenshot/Comcast

The statue is made of pewter and stands 5.2 inches tall. It also has an unofficial group of caretakers.

Maintenance crews who work on top of the roof and Comcast Center general manager Alan Drucker regularly check on the statue, but they don’t actually perform any maintenance. Its location on the beam makes it difficult to reach, and, well, it’s a 5.2 inch pewter statue that nobody can see. Its appearance isn’t as important as the Billy Penn statue atop City Hall. That statue was restored in the ’80s at a cost of $700,000, and $300,000 was set aside for its maintenance. Severe weather regularly affects it. This summer, someone captured video of the Billy Penn statue being struck by lightning.

Valerie Meola, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Mount Holly, said severe weather, like the winds that reached 60 mph in Philadelphia during last month’s blizzard, is stronger nearly 1,000 feet in the air. And the 5.2 inch statue is not protected from the climate. Wind, snow, rain and other climate factors wreak havoc on it.

John Demming, executive director of corporate communications for Comcast, said the miniature statue is anchored into the steel, keeping it in place.

Comcast also plans to feature a Billy Penn statue on Comcast 2, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Demming said the company hasn’t decided whether it will move the 5.2 inch Billy Penn on the Comcast Center or get a new one.

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