Mayor Kenney threatens to end Mummers Parade if changes aren't made

Pat Loeb
January 23, 2020 - 4:06 pm
2020 Mummers Parade

Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has made a veiled threat to the annual Mummers Parade following this year's New Year's Day incident: Put an end to blackface, or risk ceasing the parade altogether.

A few weeks ago, two mummers were seen in blackface.

The mayor is demanding changes, saying the city might consider hosting its own New Year's parade on Broad Street or it might impose conditions on the cost forgiveness the city provides the Mummers.

Those scenarios were in a letter to the presidents of the five Mummers divisions.

The letter demands "meaningful changes" to better control and organize participants. It also says the consequences of the poor discipline are not limited to members showing up in blackface.

The Mummers' attorney, George Badey, says they are ready and willing to work with the city on the "decisive steps" and changes the mayor has demanded.

"Unfortunately, the actions of these two knuckleheads that did a horrible thing and they were wrong and they've been universally condemned for it and the city says it's unacceptable. We agree, totally," Badey said. 

"Mummers have harassed city officials, including police officers," he writes, "and the regularity of extreme intoxication has caused problems of its own." 

They can't even get proper permits, he adds.

The letter, dated Tuesday, was released on the same day that Councilmember Cindy Bass proposed penalties for wearing blackface in public.

"You would start out with the individual (but) if the club does not police their (members), there should be penalties against the club as well," Bass said. 

The mayor's letter demands a meeting between mummers and city officials, but the city says it hasn't yet received a reply.