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December 20, 2022

For Jim Gardner's last newscast, fans plan to tailgate across street from 6ABC studio

The beloved anchor retires from Action News on Wednesday, Dec. 21, following the 6 p.m. broadcast. He will be celebrated by a gathering in the City Avenue Target parking lot

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Jim Gardner retirement tailgate Provided image/Chris Miko

Jim Gardner's last newscast with 6ABC before he retires is Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at 6 p.m. Fans of the anchor are planning to tailgate across the street from the studio. Above, are shirts made by Chris Miko, who is organizing the party.

Philadelphia's beloved anchor Jim Gardner is retiring, and fans are commemorating his final newscast in the most Philly way possible.

After more than four decades with 6ABC, Gardner's last newscast for Action News will be on Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. To celebrate the local icon, Wilmington resident Chris Miko is organizing a tailgate happening at 4 p.m. in the back corner of the parking lot of the Target store on City Avenue. That area of the Target parking lot runs up against Monument Road and is directly across the street from 6ABC's studio and offices.

MORE: Brian Taff to take over 6ABC's 6 p.m. newscast when Jim Gardner retires

"I'd like to say Jim Gardner is important to everyone," Miko said. "Even if you're partial to NBC10 or CBS3, everyone loves and adores Jim. He's been a staple of the community for decades and seems to be one of the most sincere, humble media members we've had the pleasure of getting to know. We are all going to miss him." 

Gardner was born, raised and educated in New York City, but has lived most of his adult life in the Philadelphia area. He joined 6ABC as a reporter and anchor for Action News at noon in 1976. By 1977, he assumed the role of anchor of the station's 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news broadcasts. He held both positions until passing the 11 p.m. spot to Rick Williams in January 2022. Brian Taff will take over the 6 p.m. slot after Wednesday.

6ABC has been commemorating the local legend with stories honoring his years with the station, as well as an hour-long primetime special that will air on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m.

The idea for a celebratory gathering came to Miko last year when Gardner originally announced his retirement. 

"Philadelphians will tailgate anything, especially if it's important to them," he said. "Who's more important to the city of Philadelphia than the Jim? The greatest of all time."

In November 2021, Miko proposed the tailgate on Twitter. The idea soon received over 1,500 likes and tons of comments by people expressing their support for the event.

Just over a year later, the party is coming to fruition. Miko has even ordered T-shirts featuring vintage photos of Gardner for the event.

Attendees to Wednesday's tailgate are encouraged to bring signs with messages for Gardner. Miko said he's hoping to set up a screen so attendees will be able to watch the anchor's final broadcast from the tailgate, and a certain song will be on loop throughout the celebration.

"I hope people really enjoy the Action News theme song because it will be played a lot," Miko said.

Miko originally hoped to have the event by the NBC10 building across the street, but with construction going on there he instead opted for the Target parking lot at 4000 Monument Road, just off City Avenue.

Target management did not respond to Miko's inquiries about hosting the event, so if a problem does arise, the contingency plan is to move to the public sidewalk in front of the 6ABC building.

While Miko admits the social media response has been "overwhelming," he's not yet sure how many Jim Gardner fans to expect tomorrow.

"I didn't think it would blow up like this," he said. "I don't know how many people to expect, but about 800 people showed up to an abandoned pier to watch a man eat an entire chicken last month. So who knows what to expect?"

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