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Rat steals Frogs' costumes

Just two weeks before the Mummers Parade, someone broke into Froggy Carr's South Philadelphia clubhouse and took about a dozen satin suits.

Police form a barrier in front of the judges' stand as members of Froggy Carr perform during the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on January 1, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )
Police form a barrier in front of the judges' stand as members of Froggy Carr perform during the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on January 1, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )Read more

WHO DAT, Who Dat, Who Dat costume thief?

Some toad broke into Froggy Carr's clubhouse in South Philadelphia late Tuesday or early Wednesday and stole about a dozen costumes stored there for the coming Mummers Parade.

"The club was broken into last night and suits were stolen any information to help us catch the thief would be highly appreciated our organization does a lot to help anyone in need for this to happen is a disgrace if you hear of anyone selling frog suits contact the page or the club thanks a lot!!" the club posted on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Froggy Carr officials declined to discuss details with the Daily News yesterday, saying via Facebook message: "there is already enough going on with the parade route being changed we don't wanna make anymore waves."

But one Mummers insider said the burglar broke in through a back door of the clubhouse on 2nd Street between Reed and Dickinson streets.

The thug then busted a lock on the basement door to filch some costumes stored there, stole "some kitchen stuff" and rifled through a cash box at the bar, he said.

The thief got no cash, though, because club members leave the box empty after-hours, he said.

Cutting the competition off at the knees likely wasn't the thief's motivation. Froggy Carr is a wench brigade notorious as carousers who rarely win.

"It's definitely party first, compete second," said Ed Barkowitz, a Daily News sports writer who has marched with Froggy Carr nearly 20 years.

Leo Dignam, parade director and deputy commissioner of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, agreed: "There's no use for those costumes other than to be in the parade, so it's senseless really. The wench brigades are out there for fun. They're not cutthroat competitors. They're the most fun-loving Mummers. For these guys, it's a way for them to celebrate their tradition and the new year. There's no reason to steal their costume. It's very sad."

Dignam noted that about 800 to 900 Froggy Carr marchers are expected to participate in the 2015 parade. So the loss of a dozen suits will barely dent the dancing army.

Further, Charlie McKenna, president of the Wench Brigade Association, said he expects some seamstresses will come to the Frogs' rescue with replacement costumes. Club members will wear flouncy red-and-white satin suits as they strut to the theme "The Running of the Bull Frogs."

Still, fixing doors the burglar broke could be expensive, McKenna said. And stealing costumes two weeks before the big parade? That's just slimy, he added.

"They're a generous club," McKenna said. "If people were struggling and came to them, they'd help them out. The people who did this, they're scumbags, dirtbags. If you need help, ask for it."

A longtime member vowed: "We'll find out who did it. We'll get 'em."

This isn't the first last-minute emergency to afflict a Mummers club.

In December 2012, fire destroyed a building at 2nd and Wharton streets where the celebrated Fralinger String Band stored its equipment. In October 2007, a vandal set fire to the Greater Kensington String Band's riverfront warehouse off State Road near Longshore Avenue, destroying all the band's backdrops and props.

And during the 1995 parade, Froggy Carr suffered dual disasters: Police confiscated their beer truck and arrested Captain Mike "Tooth" Renzi as he defended the lager from the law. In protest, the Frogs blocked Market Street and brought the parade to a standstill until police released Renzi.