Mayor Nutter and his staff wanted to make this crystal-clear yesterday: There will be a Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day.
How much it will cost and who will pay for it - the cash-strapped city or the flat-broke Mummers - was not at all clear.
That was the subject of a sometimes raucous discussion between city officials and Mummers club members at the city representative's office yesterday. Reporters were told to leave the room but raised voices could be heard from outside during the 90-minute meeting.
City Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney also attended, while U.S. Rep. Bob Brady offered his thoughts over speakerphone.
The Mummers were clearly frustrated that City Representative Melanie Johnson and other Nutter administration officials could not put a number on how much they expect the parade to cost in city services.
"There's no number," said George Badey III, a Fralinger String Band member and chairman of SavetheMummers.com. "When you have a negotiation, it's kind of important."
Badey said the city's withdrawal of $336,000 in prize money for the 2009 parade, typically used by Mummers to pay for costumes and other expenses, has made it difficult for the clubs to prepare.
The city, dealing with a deep budget deficit, decided last year to start charging for services such as police and sanitation for the many parades held each year.
Still, the city picked up $300,000 in costs for the 2009 parade because there was very little time for the Mummers to deal with the new policy.
Johnson, after the meeting, repeated a vow made by Nutter earlier in the day to the Daily News that there will be a parade. She said the "vigorous discussion" helped deal with some issues.
Johnson said she could not provide a "straight number" on parade costs because city officials are still looking for ways to trim expenses.
"We didn't come to terms on dollars or anything like that but we're still working," said Johnson, who will meet again with the Mummers next week. "We'll continue to meet if we have to, as we did last year, right up until the end."