I guess times have changed for Mayor Jim Kenney. I remember a time he would be in his Mummers club, dancing and joking along with his friends and family after marching in the New Year’s parade. I remember a time when he would try to embarrass teenage girls like me for taking a scoop of baked ziti because, as he said, “in this club, we wait for the members to eat first.” I remember his smile and laughter as he would celebrate and dance until the morning hours.
But I guess he does not remember those days of making memories with his family and friends now that he’s the mayor of Philadelphia.
Last week, Mayor Kenney had strong words for the leaders of the Mummers, threatening to shut down the 190-year-old tradition if they didn’t make immediate changes to get control of the parade. This came after a few Mummers were seen wearing blackface on New Year’s Day this year.
The two gentlemen who wore blackface were wrong. No questions asked. They were wrong. But they have been banned from the Mummers Parade and Mummers associations made a public apology and promised to continue to work to make the Mummers Parade better.
Mayor Kenney should know that the action of two individuals does not represent the thousands of Mummers. He should also know that the Mummers are so much more than just New Year’s Day.
They help the community. When one Mummer needs help, you will find the hands of 100 Mummers reaching out. They hold benefits for families in need. They will serenade sick and dying members or family. On Jan. 3, 2011, my grandfather, who had marched for over 30 years with the Mummers, died. On Jan. 1, 2011, 600 Mummers passed his rowhouse on a small street to pay tribute; he died feeling honored.
String bands will play weddings and funerals. Wench brigades have donated their suits to CHOP. The Mummers walk down Broad Street taking pictures with children, elderly people, and handicapped people. They thank the police officers.
Some of my best memories happened with my family on New Year’s Day.
In my opinion, the mayor has way bigger fish to fry than the Mummers right now.
Philadelphia is in the middle of a substance abuse crisis and there are barriers to treatment.
Philadelphia County insurance requires you to have an assessment done prior to accessing substance abuse treatment. There aren’t nearly enough assessment centers, and the ones that do exist are overcrowded, understaffed, and in horrible condition. Accessing treatment for someone who lives in Philadelphia is long, stressful, and at times, infuriating.
But instead of dealing with that, the mayor is focused on launching a safe injection site. I think easier access to treatment is needed before the city starts letting people do drugs safely.
In the last few weeks, murder rates, robberies, and violence have been high. People in South Philly, the mayor’s old neighborhood, are actually afraid of walking to their cars in the morning. I was never afraid to walk around in this neighborhood growing up. A young woman from South Philly was found dead in a basement. Her family had been searching for her for months. In a parking lot on South Third Street, a man was found dead in the trunk of a car that was set on fire.
Throughout the city, things like this are happening. Kids are jumped. Overdoses continue to rise. Cars are continuously broken into. Public property continues to be vandalized. Drug paraphernalia litters our streets. Our children are picking up dirty needles while playing. People are being held up at gunpoint. The city is turning into the Wild West. Criminals no longer fear law enforcement.
But instead of dealing with all that, Mayor Kenney is worried about holding thousands of Mummers accountable for the actions of two individuals. I guess times have changed.