The Philadelphia Flyers have had a near-constant presence on "The Goldbergs" during the sitcom's six seasons on ABC, with Flyers posters, shirts and jerseys appearing in almost every episode.
Now series creator Adam F. Goldberg will pay homage to one of the Flyers' biggest annual events, the Flyers Wives Carnival.
In the episode, "This is This is Spinal Tap," which airs April 3 (8 p.m. ET), Erica (played by Hayley Orrantia), the oldest of the three Goldberg kids, plays one final show with her band, The Dropouts, at the Carnival. After getting lost in the Spectrum, the Flyers' original home, she ends up on stage performing the Aerosmith/Run DMC song "Walk This Way" with her brothers, Adam (Sean Giambrone) and Barry (Troy Gentile).
"Some of my favorite memories are from going to the Flyers Carnival as a kid," Goldberg said. "It's such a big event in Philadelphia and everybody goes to it, so I've wanted to set an episode there for a long time. When I decided to do an episode about Erica getting a big gig at a local venue, I knew it was the right time."
Honda Center was used in place of the Spectrum, but Goldberg said there will be a very Philadelphia feel.
"The [Flyers have] always been really welcoming and open to any ideas," he said. "And on this one they gave us never-before-seen footage, vintage footage, which is really exciting."
Started in 1977 to raise money for the cancer unit at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, the Carnival has raised more than $27 million for a multitude of non-profit groups in the Philadelphia region.
The Carnival now is televised and features a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel and a carousel at Wells Fargo Center, but it was more low-key when Goldberg attended in the 1980s. But the staples of the event remain the chance to meet and get autographs from current and former Flyers mixed with traditional carnival games.
"I think I still have the autographs and pucks," Goldberg said of his times at the Carnival. "My mom kept everything that I got signed there. ... Going there as a kid in the late 1980s, to get access to players that you worshipped, was mind-blowing. There was nothing like it."
Goldberg said seeing the players out of their hockey gear humanized them, especially goalie and former general manager Ron Hextall.
"Hextall is the one from my childhood. It was like meeting God," Goldberg said. "When my friends and I would play street hockey out in our street, me and my friend Chad, someone always had to be Hextall, that was the best role you got to play. To meet him was amazing.
"I saw him two years ago when the Flyers were playing the (Los Angeles) Kings and I got to meet Hextall as an adult. I was like, 'You were very kind to me at the Carnival.'"
What also makes the Carnival important to Goldberg is it was something he could share with his father, Murray.
"As much as I wanted to meet Tim Kerr," he said, "my dad was so psyched to meet Bill Barber, Bob Clarke … Ed Van Impe, that was my dad's favorite player. That was always really cool too. As much as I love the current players, there would always be a couple of the alumni that were there signing. To see your dad act like a kid was fun."
Now living in Southern California, Goldberg said he hasn't seen anything like the Flyers Carnival.
"I'm sure [teams] have events where you can meet players," he said. "But to have opportunity for a meet and greet with (current) players but also your old favorite players who have retired, new players, minor-league players, that's really special."