A miracle will soon happen on Broad Street.
Thanks to 11th-hour donations, the city's beloved Mummers Parade will go on as planned.
More than $230,000 has been raised to help ensure that the Mummers will strut on New Year's Day and, hopefully, for years to come, said George J. Badey III, a lawyer for the Mummers.
Badey, a saxophonist in the Fralinger String Band, likened the generosity of Mummers' supporters to the 1946 movie classic "It's a Wonderful Life," in which the townspeople of tiny Bedford Falls come together and collect money to rescue the Bailey Building & Loan Association.
"Philadelphia might not be a small town population-wise, but it really is a small town at heart, and the Mummers is a beloved institution, and when we were down and needed help, all the people came out to help us, just like in the movie," Badey said yesterday.
The Mummers Parade, a 108-year-old Philly tradition, nearly fell victim to Grinchly cuts as Mayor Nutter struggles to close a $1-billion budget shortfall in the face of a mean economy.
City officials had agreed to foot $300,000 of the $350,000 that they say is needed to pay for the 2009 parade. The agreement, however, left the Mummers scrambling to come up with the remaining $50,000. The city has also said it will provide no prize money, which would have been $336,000 this year.
During a Christmas Eve news conference at the Mummers Museum, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and state Sen.-elect Larry Farnese announced that corporate donors had come through with $230,000 - nearly five times the amount needed to fill the $50,000 void.
Badey said the extra money will be put toward the 2010 parade and beyond, since city officials have said that from here on out, the Mummers must shoulder the entire cost of the parade.
Badey, a Mummer since 1972, implored parade-lovers to go to www.savethemummers.com and make a donation, saying every little bit helps. The Mummers have scheduled a Jan. 2 news conference to publicly thank donors, he said.
Meanwhile, Badey thanked the organizations and companies that have stepped forward: The nonprofit Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund, $100,000; Joey Vento of Geno's Steaks, $40,000; Electric Factory, $10,000 a year for 10 years; Forman Mills on Aramingo Avenue, $22,000; Verizon, $10,000.
The Mummers "is a culture of togetherness. It's just a wonderful thing, and we can't just let that die and we're not going to," Badey said. "I cannot imagine New Year's in Philadelphia without a Mummers Parade."
Badey said he feels city officials are being short-sighted. He can't understand why they'd cut funds for an event that generates an estimated $9 million in revenue and helps sell the city as a tourist destination, he said.
"The parade is actually generating revenue and it's putting the city on the map nationally," Badey said. "The Mummers are just like the Liberty Bell and cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. It's like an icon of Philadelphia." *