The German Christmas Village at Love Park in Philadelphia normally offers those who visit the opportunity to grab some food, gifts for the holidays and maybe even a hot beverage to stay warm. However, the park offered a unique opportunity that most had yet to experience.
Hosted by Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, Premier League side and the reigning winners of the Champions League, Chelsea FC, brought the UEFA Champions League trophy to Philadelphia. Fans of all ages and allegiance lined up to see the trophy in person and to take photos. Chelsea legend Tore André Flo was also in attendance.
“I think it’s been a great day,” Flo said. “I’ve had a lot of fun here in Philadelphia. The supporters were very good and lively, we’ve had cheesesteaks, and went up the Rocky Steps, as I call them. It’s been a very good day.”
"It's been awesome," Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association CEO Chris Branscome said. "We had a constant line of fans coming up, even Santa Claus came by. We put on something special today and the clinics we're putting on for the kids tonight are going to be special too. We had a great day for soccer in the city."
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the trophy stayed on 15th and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia. However, just like most who visit the city, a trip up the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was required. Flo -- along with Philadelphia Union legend and Ring of Honor member Sébastien Le Toux, Rocky Balboa impersonator Mike Kunda and the Vince Lombardi Trophy -- posed atop the steps for photographs.
“It’s an amazing experience for this to be here in the states and in Philadelphia,” Bharat Ramprasad, Secretary of Philly Blues, Philadelphia’s Chelsea supporters club, said. “We’re fortunate that Chelsea’s won it twice and every time they do, the level of interest for soccer and for Chelsea in Eastern Pennsylvania increases. We’re very lucky the club allows us these opportunities.”
Ramprasad was not the only one thankful to see the trophy in The City of Brother Love.
“It’s amazing that we have access to this,” Michael Jacob, Treasurer of Philly Blues said. “With [Christian] Pulisic being from Eastern Pennsylvania and PA Classics, they’re growing the brand, the club and the interest here.”
The evening closed with a clinic at Anderson Recreation Center for selected youth from the community.