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Jury duty in Philadelphia is going green.
People filling into the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center to serve their civic duty Monday morning discovered a surge of hometown pride in the nominally staid assembly room.
Around 8 a.m., the administrative officer started roll call. He explained to the crowd of 180 citizens how it would work: he would call out the name of each person on his list, and they would need to respond. To do so, he said, you could either say “Here,” “Present” … or “Go Birds.”
Anyone who knows Philly can guess what ensued.
“Every tenth name it would happen,” said Dutch Godshalk, a 36-year-old Fairmount resident who was in the courthouse waiting room. “It would be like ‘Here,’ ‘Here,’ ‘Go Birds.’”
Each time a prospective juror chose to call out their Eagles pride, the administrative officer would intone the same. “Go Birds,” he would say solemnly, before moving onto the next name.
“People started getting louder and louder as it went on,” Godshalk said. “It’s usually such a dreary atmosphere. This really brought some levity to the situation.”
This kind of thing has happened before. In late January 2018, as Doug Pederson was leading Philadelphia to its first ever Lombardi Trophy, the entire jury waiting room broke out in a rendition of “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” led by an especially pumped up city worker.
Though there wasn’t a fight song this time (yet), the First Judicial District had given a heads up this might happen. The reminder emails sent to people with jury duty, ostensibly meant to remind that face masks are still required in the courthouse, had an extra recommendation tacked on at the end:
“Wear your Eagles gear and show your support for the NFC CHAMPS!” the court system wrote. “GO BIRDS!!!”
Surprisingly, the majority of prospective jurors present on Monday did not chose the (appropriate) Eagles-themed answers, per Godshalk, who said only about 6 of 180 people opted for the “Go Birds” response. “But double that,” he noted, because of the administrative officer’s call-and-response repeat.
Did Goldshalk himself say it?
No. “But, but that’s because I was just coming back from the bathroom and I was caught off guard,” he said, stumbling for an excuse. Growing up in Conshohocken, his family was big into the Eagles. An older brother named all his pets after Philly or Eagles things. “He has birds, I think just because, go Birds.”
Yeah. It’s a Philly thing. Go Birds.