Golden Sunrise off life support
Gift from Republic Bank guarantees Fancy Division for two more years.
THE WOLF IS no longer at Golden Sunrise's door, thanks to a generous gesture by Philadelphia-based Republic Bank.
The sole survivor in the Mummers' Fancy Division, Golden Sunrise had fallen on hard financial times. Its cash reserves were as low as a caterpillar with fallen arches and in its South Philadelphia clubhouse/warehouse the roof was leaking, a catastrophe-in-the-making for decades' worth of costumes, some of which are patiently recycled to save money.
All this was reported in my Nov. 7 column, along with Golden Sunrise's efforts to raise $28,000 (enough to get it on the street Jan. 1 - which was never really in doubt, although it looked as if it would be the last strut - and also enough to get it on the street a year later).
The crowdsourcing fundraising, organized by Golden Sunrise newcomer Jeri Shelton, had raised $1,400. Without help, 2015 would have been the end of Golden Sunrise and the end of the Fancy Division.
It was the Nov. 7 column that lit a spark with Republic Bank, which is headquartered in Center City and prides itself on its Philadelphia connection. The spark was fanned by one of the directors, Brian Tierney, once an owner of the Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com.
"The Mummers are such an integral part of Philadelphia, we wanted to help," said Republic Bank chief retail officer Rhonda Costello, adding that the bank plans to continue its relationship with Golden Sunrise and is in the early stages of planning a series of events with the club.
"We are a community bank and we want to support our communities here," Costello said. "This is a perfect chance for us to do that and save the Fancy Division, which is a fabulous thing for us to do."
At Golden Sunrise, one of the directors, Palma Lucas, told me, "We are solid, we are packed, we are 90 percent built, just a few more suits" to be done by hand, as they all are. The Republic grant will help cover "a ton of work" that needed to be done on the clubhouse.
She said Golden Sunrise was stunned by the bank's generosity and asked for nothing in return.
Well, maybe one thing.
"Some Republic people asked if they could march with us," Lucas said. "It wasn't a condition. It was, 'Look at that suit. I wish I could wear it in the parade.' And I said, OK, come on."
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky