Holidays in Philly

Philly mash-up: 15 Christmas icons and the year’s biggest stories

Tiny Tim Carson Wentz. Cousin Eddie Ed Rendell. Hans Gruber Chaka Fattah.

Billy Penn Illustration

It’s Christmastime, meaning Mayor Jim Kenney will soon don his Buddy The Elf costume — along with Councilman Mark Squilla as Santa — and entertain kids at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival. But why should they be Philadelphia’s only public figures getting into the holiday spirit?

So we decided to create a little Christmas cheer of our own and compare Philly politicians, athletes and entertainers to characters from Christmas movies and specials.

A note: We don’t actually think Carson Wentz is a little child or Josh Shapiro is an elf. This is for fun.

Jim Kenney: Buddy the Elf

Cari Feiler Bender for Historic Philadelphia, Inc./Billy Penn Illustration

Because Kenney will always be Buddy the Elf. The tights weren’t right for the Arctic weather tonight, so the annual event at Franklin Square got delayed. Look for him to wear the costume again Tuesday.

Binary Bandits: The Grinch, Ocean: Cindy Lou Who

Billy Penn Illustration

This true Philadelphia crime story took a Grinchy turn this week when a bandit returned a bag full of 0s and 1s to the doorstep of Kensington resident whose address numbers were stolen this fall.

Ocean was the little Fishtown resident who never stopped believing. Perhaps she helped grow the hearts of the Binary Bandits.  

Chaka Fattah: Hans Gruber


Fattah officially became the bad guy this year. He was convicted of corruption in the spring and sentenced to 10 years in prison this week.

Justice: The Ghost of Christmas of Present from “Scrooged”

Fattah wasn’t the only politician to feel the wrath of justice this year. Attorney General Kathleen Kane got sent to jail for perjury and obstruction. Rep. Leslie Acosta pleaded guilty to embezzlement. DA Seth Williams faces questions over campaign finance. Councilman Bobby Henon’s office was raided by the Feds. State Sen. Larry Farnese was indicted for bribery. Justice may not come swiftly in Philadelphia, but it came this year, like a certain swift kick to the, well, see the clip below.

Archbishop Charles Chaput: Gretchen Weiners


Pope Francis named 17 new Cardinals this year, including three in America. A certain Charles Chaput was skipped over, though, just as Gretchen Weiners was skipped over for candy cane grams in “Mean Girls.”

Grace Kelly: Princess Hoagiemouth


“A Royal Christmas” is like the story of Grace Kelly, except the making of a hoagie nearly derails the whole Philadelphia to royalty story.

Johnny Doc: Mr. Potter


In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Mr. Potter holds all the power as the banker running things in the town. Similarly, John Dougherty orchestrates Philadelphia politics behind the scenes. You get the feeling Dougherty wouldn’t mind if Philadelphia was actually called Docville — and maybe it should be.   

Dumpster Pool Guys: Island of Misfit Toys

Last year's pool

It’s not that they don’t fit into Philadelphia for converting a dumpster into a swimming pool this summer and angering city officials. They’re too good for it! Dumpster Pool forever.

Carson Wentz: Tiny Tim


The Eagles’ future depends on his fragile body. Plus the guy REALLY loves Christmas:

Pat Toomey: Frank Costanza

Billy Penn Illustration

One of Toomey’s strategies for getting re-elected was not committing to Trump until the last minute when he voted for him the night of Election Day. Frank Costanza would love it. He pioneered Festivus, the holiday where no religious or commercial commitments matter.

Joel Embiid: The BB gun from “A Christmas Story”

Billy Penn Illustration

He’s the gift Philadelphia has wanted for years. Hopefully the Sixers won’t shoot themselves in the face.

Josh Shapiro: Hermey the Elf


Hermey the Elf wished and wished he could be a dentist despite being an elf. Shapiro wished he could become Attorney General, Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor, despite not having any experience as a prosecutor, and he dominated in the Democratic primary and the general election. Sometimes wishes come true.

Sam Hinkie: Linus 

Billy Penn Illustration

Linus loves going off on tangents that don’t always make the most sense in the world. So does Hinkie, who recently said to Sports Illustrated, “Why do we watch basketball games front to back? Why not watch games back to front, or out of order?”

The American Beverage Association: Magician from Frosty

Billy Penn Illustration

The ABA’s magic had worked in plenty of other American cities, lobbying to kill soda taxes. Not in Philly.

Ed Rendell: Cousin Eddie

Billy Penn Illustration

Sure, the name is enough to make this comparison. But at times this year Ed Rendell made a few Cousin Eddie-esque comments, not the least of which was his quip that he is “not one for name calling.”


Want some more? Explore other Holidays in Philly stories.