Legendary Philadelphia news anchor Jim Gardner was celebrated Thursday night by his Action News family during a retirement party in his honor. Gardner's emotions got the best of him...in the best way.

6abc team members past and present showed up to the Hilton on City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd to bid a fond farewell to Gardner as he prepares to deliver his final news broadcast this coming Wednesday, December 21st.

There was an ice sculpture in Gardner's likeness as well as a signature cocktail.

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Former weatherman Dave Roberts returned to praise Gardner and recall their time together on Action News.

Current chief meteorologist Cecily Tynan talked about Jim being a gifted and trusting anchor, but also just a fun person.

But it was Gardner himself who struggled to keep his composure as he looked back at his long career at Action News, where he began broadcasting in 1976. Jim got especially choked up when recounting his days at the news desk alongside the late great Gary Pappa and Dave Roberts.

'I have long spoke of the covenant', Gardner said. 'A covenant we formed with our viewers long ago. We gave them our respect, our enduring commitment to fair, truth-seeking, but empathic journalism, and in return they gave us their trust. The fact that that arrangement seems to have worked for a very long time, suggests to me that, overall, mine was a professional life well lived.'

You could also tell how humbled he's been by his longevity in the Philly news market.

It's hard for ME to think about Action News without Jim Gardner. I don't know my life without watching him on TV. To me, and so many others, he's been THE news authority. He's earned the trust and respect of so many viewers over these 40+ years, as well as his colleagues.

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I believe in Jim's successors, Brian Taff for the 6 p.m. newscast and Rick Williams for the 11 p.m. newscast, but I am REALLY going to miss him. What a guy.

6abc will air a one-hour special on the career of Jim Gardner at Action News on Thursday, December 22 at 8 p.m.

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