It’s fascinating how so many of the most memorable moments in history turn on a chance moment. And those moments, those cultural signposts and turning points, seem to usually involve only a few people but come to define the character of a time, a people, a place, etc.

That’s definitely the case with Philadelphia’s legendary reputation as an unforgiving and cold-blooded sports town. It turns out that a lot of that reputation can be traced to the 1968 Eagles-Vikings game where fans booed and snowballed Santa Claus. I grew up hearing about this, but I had never heard the full story until Christopher Wink retweeted a link to this ESPN feature.

So much effort and money is spent on brand and marketing campaigns that usually have a snowball’s chance in terms of lasting impact. There’s probably a lot to be discovered by studying moments like this for their constituent parts to learn what made the moment so remarkable.

It was a small, strange moment that continues to define an aspect of Philadelphia’s identity.