Joey Vento, the controversial owner of Geno's Steaks, took center stage at today's City Hall press conference announcing that the city and Mummers had reached a deal for the annual New Year's Day parade.
Vento – who donated $40,000 to keep the parade running this year – took the podium to say that the Mummers tradition should be kept alive. He was flanked by Mayor Nutter, U.S. Rep Bob Brady and Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco, as well as other top officials.
"Life has been good to me and I do believe you should give back," said Vento, who also gave $40,000 to last year's parade.
Some of the politicians joked at the microphone about Vento. "I know who's the finance chairman of my re-election committee," DiCicco said. And Kenney said: "See how important this parade is? Joey Vento and I are on the same team!"
Vento drew international attention in 2006 for posting a sign at his South Philadelphia cheesesteak shop that read: ""This is America. When ordering, please speak English." Kenney publicly requested that the sign be removed. Nutter returned a contribution made by Vento to his mayoral campaign.
As we reported, the press conference confirmed that the city and the Mummers have a deal for the parade. Under the agreement, the Mummers will be charged $148,017 for city costs related to the New Year's Day parade. The Mummers will pay about $40,000 of that bill and the rest will come from Vento and other sponsors.
Last year, due to budget constraints, Mayor Nutter ended a city policy of picking up police and sanitation costs for special events.