BREAKING: Sweet Little Baby Jesus Stolen


INQUIRER: The National Park Service is investigating the theft of a nearly life-sized statuette of a baby Jesus that was stolen from a crèche at Fifth and Market Streets near Independence Hall. According to Jane Cowley of the Park Service, the theft was discovered over the weekend by a member of the maintenance staff. The statuette was due to be replaced by the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus. Cowley said this was the first time in memory that such a theft had occurred. The statuette had been bolted to the floor of the display. No other parts of the Nativity Scene were missing. MORE

jesusontheradiocropped.jpgPREVIOUSLY: When Baby Jesus disappeared last year from a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Fla., community center, village officials didn’t follow a star to locate him. A GPS device mounted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff’s deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year-old woman was arrested in the theft. Giving up on old-fashioned padlocks and trust, a number of churches, synagogues, governments and ordinary citizens are turning to technology to protect holiday displays from pranks or prejudice. About 70 churches and synagogues eager to avoid the December police blotter jumped at a security company’s offer of free use of GPS systems and hidden cameras this month to guard their mangers and menorahs. MORE


TANGENTIALLY-RELATED: Let’s be clear about what happened on Dec. 15, 1968. The Eagles, who played their home games at Franklin Field, were losing the last one of the season, against Minnesota. Losing was something they did a lot in what would be their 2-12 finish, and fans were disgusted. They detested the team’s starting quarterback, Norm Snead. They reviled the guy who brought him to Philly, coach Joe Kuharich, which is why they wore “Joe Must Go” buttons that day. And they were ready to burn in effigy the team’s owner, Jerry Wolman, for heading such a sorry band of idiots. The weather was miserable at game time — cold, wet, snowy — and water dripped through every crevice in the decrepit toilet of a stadium. “I remember that my feet were in a pool of some kind of fluid” — Water? Beer? Urine? — recalls Steve santa_733707.jpgKelley, a sports columnist at the Seattle Times; he was living in Wilmington back then and had a soggy seat at the game. “We were freezing and angry. No one wanted to be there. At the same time, you didn’t want to be anywhere else. It was just one of those games.” Eagles management had planned a Christmas show at halftime, but the guy who was to play Santa was stranded by the weather and couldn’t get to Franklin Field. Some people from the Eagles spied a young guy in the stands dressed like Santa Claus — Frank Olivo, 19 years old and skinny as a ribbon. They asked Olivo to run down to the field, through a phalanx of cheerleaders dressed as elves, and toss candy canes into the stands. And when they saw the Eagles’ pathetic clown of a St. Nick on the field, well, it felt like the final insult: Not only were fans not worthy of a decent team, coach or stadium, they apparently weren’t worthy of a decent Santa, either. The boos started. The catcalls. The snowballs. Olivo took it in stride, shaking a finger at the fans and yelling how they wouldn’t get presents that Christmas. But he was no match for a season’s worth of rage in need of a deserving target. MORE

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