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JoBlo does Rocky 1/2

12.20.2006
Note: With the release of ROCKY BALBOA in theaters today, we thought we'd re-publish the Arrow's awesome trip to Philly earlier this year, when the city dedicated Rocky's statue with Stallone in attendance. Enjoy!

The ROCKY character and franchise has acted as a source of inspiration for many since it burst on the scene in 1976. The low budget film (it was shot for $1.1 million dollars) was actually voted #4 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All-Time list and with good reason...it's the ultimate spirit riser.

For me, Rocky (and everything Sylvester Stallone did in the 80s-90s) went beyond inspiration, it was my education. Without a positive male role model around to show me the ropes, I latched onto Stallone's rags to riches story, go for it & never quit attitude and his body of work. With its poignant love story, themes of seizing the moment, rising up to the challenges and giving it your all to beat the odds, ROCKY made a huge impression upon me.


The classic Rocky scene!


Something I've been wanting to do since I was 12 years old

With the advent of the original film's 30th Anniversary and its final installment in the upcoming ROCKY BALBOA (hitting the screens on December 22nd, 2006) what better time to celebrate the character and the film! Well, Philadelphia went buck wild in that respect and threw one heck of a party in its very first annual Philly Loves Rocky Week (September 6 to 9). Although I missed out on the Boxing Exhibition and the Rocky/Adrian Look-alike Contest, I was there for the last stretch of the week, the one that had Stallone in the house. I was the living proof that the fanboy in us never dies, it just lies dormant until the "right" situation arises. Here's what I hit up!

Rocky Statue Dedication Ceremony


SLY...NICE TO SEE YA MAN!!!!!!

The Bronze Rocky Statue (which saw light in ROCKY 3) has had a weird journey within the City of Philadelphia. Stallone donated it to the city in 1982 and for a while it was where it belonged: at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky did his famous victorious sprint and jump up & down. Being labeled "not art" by some tight wads, it was consequently shipped to the front of the Wachovia Spectrum, a sport center. Well, on September 8th, 2006, the statue finally returned where it belonged...well almost.


Where the Rocky statue was located originally


The only thing left at the top of the stairs

The Philadelphia Museum of Art saw about 2000 Rocky fans on hand to witness the dedication of the statue on the "side" of the museum at the "bottom of the steps". Better than nothing. The place was booming with hardcore Rocky fans! I'm talking Egg chugging contests (emulating the bit where Rocky drinks eggs before his run), people dressed like Rocky and all kinds of peeps running up them steps. All was set to the tight Rocky soundtrack booming over some damn large speakers. It was Rocky loving and I, for one, was LOVING it!


I had to slap this up! It's Baby Rocky! How cute!

The event itself began with Sylvester Stallone driving up at the top of the steps and standing at the magic spot for the fans and press to witness. Yes, the same spot that he made famous in 1976 whilst wearing ugly grey sweat pants. After that, Stallone went down and joined the podium at the bottom of the stairs. The ceremony was hosted by the endearing "Philly Loves Rocky" organizer Jimmy Binns with the help of Philly Mayor John Street (not a very liked man if I go by the heavy booing that went down when he spoke to the crowd).


30 years later, Stallone returns to the steps that made him famous


Stallone shares some Rocky nostalgia and shows Philly some love.

NOTE: The crowd was chanting "ROCKY, ROCKY" when Sly showed up. I can live with that. But I found it odd that the folks on the podium would sometimes address Sly as Rocky. Yo, his name is Sylvester, not Rocky. He invented the character, he's NOT the actual guy! Just found it weird. END OF NOTE

Jimmy Binn's stepped in first and said that Rocky is synonymous with the City of Brotherly Love that is Philly and through the magic of movies, Stallone had elevated the image and the identity of the city overnight. More people apparently come to the museum to run up the steps than to see the art. It's a major tourist attraction and one that is very good for Philadelphia. He also revealed that actress Connie Stevens and Rocky actor Burt Young (Paulie) were in the crowd. Stevens took a bow, but Young remained incognito.

Actually, Young was supposed to be up there with Sly as per the program, but he stayed hidden. Mayor John Street then chimed in, saying that although Sylvester Stallone wasn't born in Philly (he was born in New York), he and the city considered him their adopted son. He then said that the statue would stay at that spot forever.


The statue about to be revealed...

Finally, Stallone was given the mike, opening up with a "Yo Philly!" which ignited the crowd. He then reminisced about how they had originally shot his famous scene, and offered an interesting anecdote. They apparently shot the museum scene on the fly, meaning with no location permit, hence it had to be done quickly. Initially, Stallone was to run up the stairs holding Rocky's big dog (which belonged to Sly in real life) Butkus (who has since passed on), to further emphasize how strong Rocky had become. After doing it, everybody agreed that it looked silly, so Sly ran up the stairs solo instead.

Stallone was in obvious good spirits and put his well-oiled sense of humor to practice. He knew how to work the crowd and when to pose for the press. I was mucho impressed as to how much of a pro he was at all this. Then again, 30 years of it will do that to ya, I guess! Stallone ended his speech with a heartfelt thank you to Philly for putting him where he is, said that the city will always be in his heart and if there was anything that he could ever do for it, all they had to do was ask. The statue was then unveiled, looking as glorious as ever. Stallone and company took a bow and as Sly started to depart the crowd went wild in terms of seeking autographs and pictures.


Yo! Long time no see!


Mayor John Street, Sly and Rocky Week mastermind Jimmy Binns

CONTINUED IN PART 2...

Source: JoBlo.com

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