INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Mummers' feathers are no longer ruffled.
They have agreed to pay the City of Philadelphia about $150,000, more than two-thirds of it raised already, for police, street cleanup, and other costs associated with tomorrow's strut up Broad Street.
At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Nutter called the announcement "the worst-kept secret in Philadelphia" because news organizations had repeatedly reported that the sides had reached detente.
Nutter's decision last year to enforce a Rendell-era policy of charging event organizers for city costs had cast doubt on the survival of the 108-year-old Mummers Parade.
The Mummers and city officials said they always had believed the parade would go on, but the uncertainty led U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) and Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco to raise money to defray city costs. Nutter's administration also looked for ways to reduce those expenses.
Now the only thing threatening the parade is the weather. Mummers leaders will meet at 4 a.m. tomorrow to assess the situation and, within five minutes, notify the city of their decision. The city will then inform the media.
By agreeing to charge the Mummers only for the extra costs of the parade, the city was able to cut its bill in half, to about $150,000. For example, some police already on duty that day will be reassigned to the parade, and the Mummers will not be charged for them, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said.
The city also agreed to give the Mummers a breakdown of its costs, a sticking point as recently as Monday.
George Badey, a Mummer organizing a fund-raising effort at www.savethemummers.com, said he was pleased with the agreement.
"We all know that it wasn't Mayor Nutter's fault that the world economy collapsed over the last year," he said.
Nutter responded with a "thank you."
Badey urged Mummers fans to visit his site to buy "Mummerabilia" or make donations to support the parade.
This year's biggest donor is the same as last year's: Geno's Steaks owner Joey Vento. Clad in a Harley-Davidson jacket and wearing a large gold medallion around his neck, Vento provided a sartorial counterpoint to the mayor and other city employees who surrounded him wearing suits and ties.
"Life has been good to me," said Vento, who gave $40,000. "You got to give back."
He said he had no plans to strut with the Mummers this year. Last year, his participation in a brigade with an anti-illegal-immigration theme riled some viewers, who found it offensive, though others laughed and cheered. The theme played on the controversy created after Vento put a sign with the words "please speak English" in the window of his South Philadelphia cheesesteak institution.
Peco Energy Co. and Electric Factory founder Larry Magid contributed $10,000 each. Tasty Baking Co. gave $5,000. Peco also donated $15,000 for the Fancy Brigade event at the Convention Center, which is funded separately from the parade. DiCicco contributed $20,000 from his district's activity funding, which comes from the Recreation Department.
Those dollars and other donations will mean the Mummers will have to pay only about $40,000 of the city tab, Badey said.