Philadelphia has had quite the year.
We got a new mayor. And a soda tax. The state’s attorney general was tried and convicted for abuse of office. Fishtown had a dumpster pool. And then it didn’t. We made it through a SEPTA strike and one hell of an election. Our sports teams are terrible, but also great.
In honor of, and in spite of, everything that happened in 2016, here’s what the Billy Penn staff is thankful for about Philly, mixed in with some thoughts from readers:
Dan Levy, Sports Editor
While it’s been a tumultuous year in Philly for important civic topics like politics and transportation, sports in the city have been pretty darn awesome, comparatively speaking, so there’s a lot to be thankful for this year. The four major professional teams are in the midst of a youth movement (and the fifth made the playoffs), led by Joel Embiid’s presence as the greatest thing to ever step on a basketball court. An overstatement? Perhaps, but Embiid has somehow managed to exceed expectations heaped upon him for the last two seasons, as both a player and a personality. Embiid is the one shining light to be most thankful for this year. (Oh, and Carson Wentz, too.)
Shannon Wink – Managing Editor
I have four public schools and a Catholic school in my neighborhood and every single one of them has a dedicated group of parents, parents-to-be and teachers who give their own time and money to improve the schools, thereby improving the community. This year alone they’ve added new clubs and teams, planted trees in the neighborhood, hosted a 5k and sent holiday cards to neighbors.
Mark Dent, Reporter/Curator
This summer when I walked down Quince Street between Spruce and Walnut I came to an obvious conclusion: Philadelphia is the most beautiful city in America. Now every time I tell someone about Philly I am sure to note this definitive fact. They always say, “What about San Francisco or San Diego?” I say walk down Quince Street, watch the sun set by the Schuylkill River, sneak onto the Reading Viaduct, swim at Kelly Pool in Fairmount Park. You’ll feel like you’re in Europe. So yeah, I’m thankful Philadelphia has this amazing beauty and the people who live here know it.
Kellie Panter, VP Sales & Events
I am thankful to work and be part of a city that is strong and resilient in what seems like a time that is confusing. Philadelphia is where I had my first date with my husband and have had and will continue to have amazing memories. I will forever be thankful that my son calls “his” city Philadelphia, where he is experiencing the city’s amazing museums, restaurants, sports teams and yes… cheesesteaks! I will forever be thankful for all the amazing people that I meet on a daily basis in this wonderful growing city!
Anna Orso, Reporter/Curator
I’m thankful for stand-up comedy. I’m thankful for greasy pizza and good beers with even better friends. And I’m thankful for internet memes. Anything that could bring a sense of levity to this year helped just get us through it. I’m thankful for family and supportive coworkers and dogs. And I’m thankful for this city that, through just a few years, has already given me so much more than I could ever repay.
Angie Nassar, Audience Development Manager
I’m thankful the Philly zoo didn’t name their new baby gorilla Harambe. There’s only one Harambe. Rest in peace you beautiful angel. Oh, and I’m thankful for Dizengoff.
Cassie Owens, Reporter/Curator
I can’t wait for this year to be over. I don’t know what the New Year’s Eve turn-up is, but in my mind, I am bundling all the insanity in a piñata and breaking that jawn with a circle of friends. I am gathering all the bs in a car and setting it on fire Angela Bassett-style. As trying as 2016 has been, I’ve learned so much about my family, my country and myself. One time in college, I spent way too much money on a friend’s birthday to the point where it left me a bind. I called my mom and she told me, “I’d rather you learn a costly lesson than stay an idiot for free.”
I am thankful for costly lessons. I am thankful that that I live this in food mecca. I am thankful for pinot, cabs, riojas, and for Max, the wine specialist over on Chestnut Street. I am thankful that I had a cousin so dynamic that I feel his footprints all over the city. I am thankful that I had another cousin who’s still making me laugh over quick jabs he said at the table years ago. I am grateful for Indian summers. I am blessed by my grandparents. I am thankful to encounter sources who stun me with complexity and challenge me. I am honored that I get to keep writing. I am thankful for day trips. I am thankful for Peace Valley Lavender Farm. I am thankful for disabled sections at music venues. I am thankful for ice cream machines. I am thankful for listening friends.
Danya Henninger, Culture Editor
I’m thankful I only have to write cheesy “thankful for” posts once a year. Just kidding (kind of)! But really, I am grateful to work at a place that lets me be myself while also contributing to a team — in the city that produced a nation based on those ideals. I’m thankful for the varied architectural beauty of that city, where rowhomes and skyscrapers are next-door neighbors and tech companies are headquartered on cobblestone streets. I’m thankful for the variety of cultures who call this place home — and the diversity of great food they cook and sell. I can’t think of a better base from which to study the rest of the world and root for humanity’s progress.
Chris Krewson, Editor
It’s been an incredible year for our startup news organization, which doubled in size thanks to an investment from the biggest newspaper company in the U.S. So I’ve gotten to hire, both here in Philly and across the state in Pittsburgh. And that — hiring smart people, and seeing them thrive — is just the best thing ever. And I’m thankful for Philly, and the stories it provides — dumpster pools, binary bandits, and that time that maybe Sean Hannity got booed out of a Wawa during the Democratic National Convention. And also, I’m thankful for the talented, hardworking journalists I’m proud to call my colleagues at Billy Penn and The Incline. Because they’re the best.