More than $230,000 has been raised to help ensure that the Mummers keep strutting next week and in the years to come, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and State Sen.-elect Larry Farnese said yesterday.
Brady and Farnese, who announced the donations and pledges at a news conference at the Mummers Museum in South Philadelphia, said the money was a strong start to a long-term fund-raising mission that the Mummers must undertake, given the city's inability to foot the bill for the event in the future.
"This tradition is Philadelphia," Brady said. "This is not a tradition you can break away from. We cannot allow this to fall away."
The money will more than cover the $50,000 gap the Mummers need to put on the parade next Thursday. Facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, the city has said it can no longer fund the century-old event, and has contributed $300,000 of the $350,000 needed to pay for the parade next week.
Much of the money raised in recent weeks came from large corporate donations, including ones from Electric Factory, Geno's Steaks, Forman Mills and Verizon. The nonprofit Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund donated $100,000.
Farnese said he hoped to build up a fund from contributions so that the parade would not again face possible cancellation, as it did this year.
"We're hoping people will see this today and say, 'I want to be a part of this,' " Farnese said. "That it got so close to not happening this year, we hope that will get people's attention that they need to support this."
Brady and Farnese were joined yesterday by representatives of some of the corporate donors.
Among them was Lauri Kavulich, president of the economic development fund, and Joey Vento, owner of Geno's Steaks, who pledged $40,000.
Electric Factory has pledged $10,000 a year for 10 years, and Verizon is giving $10,000.
A Forman Mills store on Aramingo Avenue stayed open for 24 hours on Tuesday and donated a matched percentage of the day's sales, $22,000.
"Like the movie It's a Wonderful Life, a community has turned out in support of a valued institution," George Badey, an attorney for the Mummers, said yesterday.
The Mummers are seeking large and small donations to help offset costs for future parades. "We need help from everybody out there," Badey said, urging people to visit www.savethemummers.com. "Ten-dollar donations, $20 donations, every dollar counts. And we're counting on you."
The Mummers Parade generates an estimated $9 million in revenue. This year's parade ran 12 hours because of a rain delay and cost the city $760,000, much of which went to pay for police and street closures and cleaning. The city has said that starting in 2010, the Mummers will be on the hook for the entire cost.
After the city's contribution left the Mummers needing $50,000 for the coming parade, Brady vowed to raise enough to cover the difference. Since then, Brady said, donations have poured in.
The challenge, he and others said, is maintaining that momentum throughout 2009 and beyond.
"It's good to see there is so much support for the Mummers," Nutter spokesman Doug Oliver said yesterday. "Their proven ability to raise these resources will be helpful to them moving forward in light of the fact that the city is unable to contribute financially in coming years."
The city has also said it cannot donate the $355,000 in prize money usually given to the winners in the Comic, String Band, and Fancy Brigade Divisions.
To further cut costs, the Mummers Association decided to trim the parade's running time from eight hours to 61/2 hours next Thursday. The event will be canceled in the event of heavy precipitation.
Mummers representatives acknowledged that the event was costly and can be disorganized, but they said it was as important to the city's identity as the Liberty Bell.
"We're everyday people, so this is our hobby, and it's an expensive hobby," said John Pignotti, president of the String Band Association. "But I've been a Mummer for 40 years, and I don't know what I would do on Jan. 1 if there was no parade."