While the Mummers and the city continue thumb-wrestling over funding problems of the annual New Year's Day Parade, a new source of potential revenue for the sequined organization has quietly hummed to life.
For once, it's a good one, and it doesn't cost the city, or the Mummers, a cent.
Go to www.savethemummers.com and click on the link to the left of the home page. It'll direct you to a new on-line shop of really smart and fun Mummers items - called "Mummerabilia" - whose sales will help keep the Mummers financially viable.
The site went live on Tuesday - a tad late for holiday shoppers looking for a Philly gift with more snap than a Liberty Bell replica, but never too late for those with sequins in their blood.
For starters there are men's, ladies' and kids' apparel with slogans and graphics designed to edge-up the Mummers image, beyond sequins and feathers.
For example, "Mummers Music makes Me Horny," reads one, printed alongside a saxophone.
Another saxophone shirt reads, "Plays Well With Mummers."
A fabulously ugly Wench Brigade-er T-shirt reads, "I'm With the Wenches."
And a graphic of a gaudy-garbed Mummers states, "Secure Enough To Wear Sequins."
Also available are Mummers CD's and DVD's, and the website promises that, coming soon, are Mummers' bobblehead dolls and finger-puppets.
The Mummerabilia line, which will be available in airport and hotel gift shops and other tourist-related stores in early 2010, is the brain-child of Fred Lavner, president of NB2, a Philadelphia-based apparel design company and online merchandiser.
"NB2 has partnered with SaveTheMummers.com to develop a unique merchandise branding program to generate revenue to preserve the parade and legacy of the Mummers," readers the website promo.
"The new merchandise program will be rolled out in two stages, the first being an online store featuring novelty printed apparel, books, music and dvds. A retail on-site program will begin in February at local museum gift shops, tourist attractions and other appropriate retail venues.
"At that time, the merchandise line will expand to include such items as musical Mummer bobbleheads, wind-up fancy strutters, comic finger puppets, musical chip tees and much more."
Says Lavner, "I've always believed that the Mummers is a Philadelphia folk icon and as important and relevant to Philly as Music City is to Austin, as the blues are to Memphis, as the Grand Ole Opry is to Nashville, and as jazz is to Chicago.
"But yet, virtually everything about Philadelphia souvenir merchandise is skewed to Ben, Betsy and the Bell. What about supporting the unique and longstanding tradition of our Mummers?"