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May 02, 2015

Santa Claus hit with snowballs at Eagles game dies

Eagles Obituary
Frank Olivo ESPN/Youtube

Frank Olivo in an ESPN piece that focused on his infamous Santa Clause incident.

The man who sparked a thousand lazy sports columns died Thursday morning.

Frank Olivo, who forever sits in the folklore of Philadelphia sports after dressing as Santa Claus and being hit with snowballs during an Eagles game, passed away at the age of 66 after a long battle with heart disease and diabetes.

The incident occurred during the final game of a miserable 1968 season in which the team would finish 2-12. Olivo was in the stands dressed as Santa for the snowy game against the Minnesota Vikings. 

With the Santa Claus the team had hired to lead the halftime entertainment stuck in traffic, Olivo was asked to fill in. 

When Olivo walked down the aisle of the stadium to the tune of the team band playing "Here Come's Santa Claus," the crowd began to throw snowballs at the 19-year-old.

While the infamous event, which was broadcast on national television, is often used as a way to characterize Philly fans as rowdy, Olivo actually enjoyed the event a little bit, according to his friend's account in the Associated Press.

In a 2011 ESPN piece on Olivo, WIP's Glen Macnow notes that Olivo will take what happened that day to his grave.

"When he dies, you already know what the first line of his obituary is going to say: Frank Olivo, the Santa Claus that who got pelted with snowballs that winter day in 1968. That's who he will be for the rest of his life."

According to, Olivo is survived by his two children and three grandchildren and his memorial will be held at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church on Friday, May 8 at 9:30 a.m. There will then be a Funeral Mass at 10:30.